Toronto Blue Jays: Potential free agent targets for next offseason

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Pitching Depth

Outside of 3B, this will probably be the area the Blue Jays front office will be most willing to spend on in free agency next offseason. Certainly Ryu should be replaced, and depending on where Yusei Kikuchi and Mitch White find themselves this season after being ineffective in 2022, there could be a need for more.

The 2022 Blue Jays Minor League Pitcher of the Year and top ranked prospect Ricky Tiedemann will be 21 in 2024 and could certainly be ready if he continues his rapid ascent up the prospect rankings (currently #28 in the Baseball America top 100). MiLB’s Rob Terranova recently had the following to say on the big lefty; “Equipped with three plus-pitches: a mid-to-high 90s fastball, a sweeping slider and a changeup, the top Blue Jays prospect (MLB No. 33) didn’t just climb three levels of Toronto’s system, he absolutely dominated them. The 20-year-old made 18 starts... and compiled a 2.17 ERA with 29 walks and 117 strikeouts over 78 2/3 innings. His 17% whiff rate led all starters in the organization by a mile and he finished.. with a combined .149 average against.”

There are some great potential free agent starter solutions as well, led by Ohtani, Lucas Giolito, 2018 AL Cy Young winner Blake Snell, Aaron Nola, Luis Severino, Mike Clevinger, Andrew Heaney (who can opt out of his contract), Sean Manaea (who can opt out as well), Frankie Montas, Chris Flexen and Jordan Montgomery. The Rockies have a $16M club option on Germán Márquez, who’d be in his age 29 season. And Detroit’s Eduardo Rodriguez can opt out of the remaining three-years/$49M on his contract going in to his age 31 season.

Assuming the Blue Jays decide not to pursue resigning Ryu, there are also some other potentially really intriguing ‘top of the rotation’ options. Dodger ace Julio Urías will only be 27, and has already put up 13.2 bWAR across his first seven seasons, including 4.9 in 2022. Padres ace Yu Darvish will be a free agent entering his age 37 season. Mets ace Max Scherzer can opt out of remaining $43.33M contract as well going in to his age 39 season.

Or they could reunite with former Blue Jays like Noah Syndergaard (who’ll be 31) or Marcus Stroman, who can opt out of one-year/$21M remaining on his Cubs contract going in to his age 33 year. Another intriguing option is Jack Flaherty, who’s been snakebitten by injuries the past three seasons, but will only be 28 with a cumulative bWAR of 9.3 across six MLB seasons.

Lastly there are some flamethrowing relievers with absolutely filthy ‘swing and miss’ stuff should the Blue Jays front office decide to alter their strategy and invest more in a shutdown bullpen. They include Phillies 2022 postseason star southpaw José Alvarado, who’ll be 29, as well as current Padres closer Josh Hader, going in to his age 30 season. Alvarado brings 100mph heat, and struck out 37.9% of the batters he faced in 2022 (14.3 Ks/9). Hader’s strikeout rate fell from his career average over 15 Ks/9 to 12.4 Ks/9 in 2022, but he still struck out 37% of batters he faced and saved 36 games in the regular season, plus four games in the playoffs.

From the right side, Joe Jiménez, who was recently acquired by the Braves for two prospects after averaging 12.2 Ks/9 in 2022 after striking out 33.3% of the batters he faced, will also be available. He throws a 96mph fastball, and will only be 29-years-old in 2024.

Assuming a willingness to spend above the luxury tax threshold in the 2023-24 offseason, the crystal ball portends the likely resigning of Matt Chapman, a new left fielder, and some solid starting pitching and relief arms to replace Ryu and Bass, and upgrade the MLB starting pitching depth from Kikuchi and White. Thankfully there are some fantastic free agent options for the Blue Jays to pursue. Indeed, these are heady times to be a Jays fan as there appear to be in their ‘World Series or bust’ window of contention.

Next. Red Sox offseason mistakes should be a lesson for Blue Jays. dark