The Blue Jays must sign a former division rival to a minor league deal for depth

Minnesota Twins v New York Yankees
Minnesota Twins v New York Yankees / Brace Hemmelgarn/GettyImages

Last Friday, the Toronto Blue Jays released pitcher Drew Hutchison as he opted out of his minor league contract. The Jays signed Hutchison to a minor league deal in early 2023 to serve as depth for the rotation. He was playing for the Jays’ Triple-A affiliate Buffalo Bisons where in nine starts, he went 2-2 with a 5.66 ERA, 1.80 WHIP, giving up 22 earned runs, 29 walks, and 31 strikeouts in 35 innings pitched. With the Jays already thin on starting pitching depth, the departure of Hutchison, along with the just recently optioned Alek Manoah to the minors, has left an even bigger hole to fill, as they only have a limited number of MLB-ready starting pitchers remaining in Buffalo.

As a result, the Blue Jays should definitely revisit the idea of signing a former pitcher from their division rival, who is currently still a free agent, to bolster their depth. That candidate is former Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Chris Archer. Archer is a veteran MLB pitcher with over 10 years of experience, posting a career ERA of less than 4.00, and a career WHIP of 1.26. He may prone to contact, but at the same time, he has the ability to strikeout a lot of batters as well. In addition, he has had plenty of experience pitching in the tough AL East division, which could come in handy.

Last year with the Minnesota Twins, despite a 2-8 record, he maintained an ERA around 4.5 and a WHIP around 1.30, giving up 87 hits, 12 home runs, while striking out 84 batters in 102.2 innings pitched. Those numbers may not jump off the page right away, but they are definitely better than what Yusei Kikuchi and Manoah have produced so far for the Jays in 2023. Not to mention, they are definitely better than what Hutchison, along with most of what the Jays have currently in Buffalo, were producing collectively, aside from perhaps Bowden Francis, who has been recently called up in place of Manoah.

The Jays cannot risk the chance of potentially losing a starting pitcher and have no one that would even be considered adequate to replace them at the major league level. They can put all their hopes in the steadily improving Francis, but why take that chance when one can provide even greater depth insurance by signing Archer to a minor league deal. All else fails, if he doesn’t work out like Hutchison, he can be released later on, too. But if the gamble pays off and he does go on to provide the stability and reliability needed, along with his veteran presence, he would no doubt be an added bonus to the Jays squad down the stretch if he is ever called upon to help the big league club along the way.