Blue Jays: 10 stars the club missed out on that would've changed franchise history
By Edward Eng
Just as recent as 2021, after the Jays failed to make the postseason by one game, they looked to upgrade their starting rotation as both Steven Matz and Cy Young Award winner Robbie Ray were heading towards free agency and were most likely not being retained. As a result, the Jays made a big pitch for two-time Cy Young winner Justin Verlander. He was just coming off Tommy John surgery at the time that put him out for all of the 2021 season, and at the same time, would be turning 39 before the 2022 MLB season began. Indeed, it would have been a big gamble for the Jays to take upon Verlander, but with his prior star-power pitching prowess and consistency over the years, they were willing to take the chance to help bolster their rotation.
In the end, Verlander decided to sign a one-year deal worth $25M, with an option for a second season, with the Astros. However, in a later interview with ESPN, Verlander mentioned that the Jays were very proactive about it and that it really came down to the Jays and the Astros, whom he had previously made the postseason with three times, including a World Series win in 2017. The Jays did recoup an excellent, reliable starter that same offseason in Kevin Gausman, whom now serves as the de-facto co-ace with Alek Manoah. So it may not feel the same as nabbing the big fish in Verlander, but still a strong difference maker in Gausman has helped the Jays enough to offset some of what Verlander could have brought to the club. But one thing is for sure, there is no question that with the pedigree of Verlander, he would have been the Game 1 starter in the 2022 AL Wild Card series against the Mariners, and who knows how that series would have turned out.