Ex-Mets, Padres hurler could be perfect low-cost signing for Blue Jays pitching staff

Whether it's as a starter or a reliever, free agent Seth Lugo could be just who the Toronto Blue Jays are looking for to bolster their pitching depth.
Colorado Rockies v San Diego Padres
Colorado Rockies v San Diego Padres / Sean M. Haffey/GettyImages

Obviously no one can touch Shohei Ohtani, in respect of a player who excels at two different positions. However, what if there was someone else out there who the Blue Jays could acquire, capable of playing two different roles equally well?

More specifically we're thinking of Seth Lugo, who declined his player option with the Padres for the 2024 season and is currently a free agent. He's already reportedly receiving plenty of attention in the open market, and the Blue Jays should seriously consider throwing their hat into the ring before he's off the board.

Lugo offers the potential to both work as a starter and out of the bullpen, given his experience of both roles during his eight years in the Majors. Although it's only this past season in San Diego, when he truly established himself in the rotation.

The 34-year-old had an 8-7 record in 26 starts, 17 of which were quality outings, as he pitched a career-high 146.1 innings. In the process, he produced a 3.57 ERA, 3.83 FIP and 1.203 WHIP.

A good fit for the Blue Jays rotation

In one respect, the numbers don't necessarily jump out of the page. At the same time however, consider that Lugo's ERA and FIP would have both been second-best among Blue Jays starters in 2023, for one of the best rotations in all of baseball (in the interest of objectivity, we will also note his WHIP would have only been fourth-best).

For his career as a whole -- both as a starter and reliever combined -- the righty has a 40-31 record in 301 games. Along the way, he has compiled a 3.50 ERA, 3.68 FIP and 1.173 WHIP, which includes a fine 6.0 percent walk rate.

In terms of becoming a regular starter so late on in his career, this alludes to Lugo not having a lot of wear-and-tear despite his age. Although this is also in part due to various injuries throughout his career, including missing playing time in 2022 after undergoing right elbow surgery.

Betting on himself

For his part, the 2011 34th-round draft pick certainly has confidence in himself, as per the aforementioned decision to decline his player option for 2024. It was worth a base salary of $7.5M -- equal to what he earned this past season -- but he clearly believes he can make more.

In this respect, at least one projection has Lugo receiving as much as $14M per season, on a multi-year deal. However, while you can understand him wanting to get some security as he approaches the twilight of his career, could this prove to be an impediment?

For example, as per Evan Petzold of the Detroit Free Press, the Tigers are apparently interested in Lugo and have pursued him previously. However, Petzold indicates that while the pitcher wants a three-year deal fully guaranteed, the team would prefer to just sign him to a one-year contract.

Latest Shohei Ohtani reports suggest Blue Jays are finalists. dark. Next. Latest Shohei Ohtani reports suggest Blue Jays are finalists

All in all, there are understandably a lot of aspects to consider in any move for the Shreveport, Louisiana native. However, the Blue Jays should certainly reach out to him; they have the money and might entice him to compromise on the length of any potential deal, especially if they land Ohtani.