Toronto Blue Jays: Free agent market is sizzling, who’s left for the Jays?

Wild Card Series - San Diego Padres v New York Mets - Game One
Wild Card Series - San Diego Padres v New York Mets - Game One / Jim McIsaac/GettyImages
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Starting Pitchers

Of course there are many outstanding questions when it comes to what the Jays have identified as a clear offseason priority. With each starter that signs elsewhere, it appears more and more likely that the Jays are, in fact, payroll constrained. Didn’t the lack of a QO to Ross Stripling last month, as well as what now apppears to be the salary dumping trade of star RF Teoscar Hernández confirm that already?

Lots of free agent starters are off the board already. The only potential free agent rotation adds left who could potentially improve the Blue Jays rotation include Carlos Rodón, the lone ace who’s still unsigned, the posted Japanese ace Kodai Senga, as well as Chris Bassitt, Nathan Eovaldi, Sean Manaea, Michael Wacha, Noah Syndergaard, Rich Hill, Corey Kluber, Michael Lorenzen, Jordan Lyles, plus former Blue Jay Ross Stripling. Note: The Mets are rumoured to be interested in Stripling as well.

Are General Manager Ross Atkins and team president Mark Shapiro really happy going in to 2023 with Yusei Kikuchi and Mitch White as their fourth and fifth starting rotation options? Isn’t this a team with serious World Series aspirations? It’s unlikely that injured starter Hyun Jin Ryu will be able to contribute until late next season (if at all) coming off of UCL surgery in June this year. Other internal options like Nate Pearson, Julian Merryweather, Trent Thornton, Thomas Hatch and Anthony Kay have all left Jays fans wanting more.

And remember that the MLB ready starting pitching depth in the weak Jays’ farm system is limited to 20-year-old Ricky Tiedemann, who’s only had a cup of coffee with 11 innings pitched at Double-A. Another top prospect, Yosver Zulueta, is an oft injured - but hard throwing - righty, was selected to the Futures Game in July and can stay at 96-97mph as a starter. However, his heavy fastball and mid-80s slider combo might work better in high leverage relief, where he can hit 100mph. Top 2022 draft pick Brandon Barriera is only 18, and 22-year-old Hayden Juenger is more of a traditional multi-inning reliever.