Rumors: Blue Jays reportedly were in the mix for Ross Stripling "until the very end"
Ross Stripling and his success in a Toronto Blue Jays uniform will live on in the hearts of Jays fans for many years to come.
After coming up to Toronto heading into the 2020 season, Stripling was a swingman attempting to find his footing in the big leagues after experiencing ups and downs through the first four years of his career on the Dodgers.
In five appearances for the Jays in 2020, he posted a 6.32 ERA. In 24 the next season, he went 5-7 with a 4.80 ERA and 93 ERA+. 2022 was his big breakout year for the club as he went 10-4 in 32 appearances, posting a 3.01 ERA and career-best 129 ERA+.
Stripling hit free agency for the first time in his professional career at the conclusion of the 2022 campaign. The Blue Jays seemed to be the best fit for him since he performed so well the year before. Ultimately, the San Francisco Giants swooped in and stole him right out from under Ross Atkins and Co.
Recently, Stripling told Shi Davidi of Sportsnet that the Blue Jays were "in the mix until the very end". He specifically points out the fact that the Giants offered him an opt-out in his contract while the Jays were not willing to do so, "they literally had the same offer as the Giants, just no opt-out."
Losing Stripling in free agency essentially was the biggest reason the club pivoted to Chris Bassitt instead. It remains to be seen how his contract will pay off versus Stripling's, but Strip got two years and $25M with an opt-out while Bassitt got three years and $63M.
Bassitt has experienced quite a bit more success in the major leagues than Stripling has, but he is also a year older than the Giants' newest starting pitcher. In his interview with Davidi, Stripling mentioned Bassitt's contract with the Jays and suggested that he could pursue a simliar deal next offseason (assuming he exercies his opt-out clause).
All along it seemed that the Jays would add a starter in the offseason. They needed to, really. Who would you prefer, Bassitt or Stripling?