Jays From the Couch look at external and internal options to fill out the rotation for the 2018 Blue Jays
The Toronto front office has yet to make the big splash many Blue Jays fans were anticipating this offseason.
One area exposed as a weakness in 2017 was the organization’s lack of starting depth. Let us not rehash how a cast of fallen Major League starters, lead by Mat Latos, were unable to fill the gaping hole left by Aaron Sanchez‘ blister.
This offseason Toronto was expected to address this weakness with the signing(s) or acquisition(s) of starting pitching. So far that has yet to come to fruition. Unless of course, we count the re-signing of former 1st round pick Deck McGuire.
We all are assuming the 2018 starting rotation will consist of :
Aaron Sanchez, hopefully, healthy
With Francisco Liriano gone, Joe Biagini appears to be the only internal option (maybe Deck and Taylor Guerrieri) with MLB experience and should receive strong consideration for the 5th spot in Spring Training.
Last season the front office signed Mat Latos, T.J. House, Brett Oberholtzer, and Lucas Harrell as minor league depth with major league experience to fill out the Buffalo Bisons rotation. Over the offseason, I’ve heard several times that Buffalo’s rotation could be filled with prospects but now it seems more likely that Joe Biagini and Deck McGuire will fill out 2-of-5 rotation spots.
On the Market
There are many quality names still on the market that could be signed to fill Toronto’s 5th spot in the rotation.
After Jake Arrieta and Yu Darvish are signed, teams will turn their attention to a pair of 30-yr-olds in Jeremy Hellickson and Lance Lynn. The pair could be had for an AAV of around $16+M but would likely require a longer term than this Front Office would be comfortable with. Either of these SP would be an upgrade over whatever Francisco Liriano gave the Jays in 2017.
Instead, Toronto will likely focus their attention on a group that consists of Chris Tillman (29), Andrew Cashner (31), Hector Santiago, and Jamie Garcia (31). The trio is likely asking for short-term contracts with AAV of around $10M.
If the asking price skyrockets on the 5 guys above, Toronto will need to regroup by looking at a group of major league veterans likely willing to sign one-year contracts for the rest of their career. This group consists of Matt Garza (34), Ricky Nolasco (35), John Lackey (39), and Edinson Volquez (34). The AAV of this group shouldn’t break the bank and would provide Toronto with inning eaters that Gibbons could utilize to give the bullpen a day off without worrying about affecting their development.
Lastly, the Blue Jays should/could take a flier on A.J. Griffin (29), Brett Anderson (29), Nick Martinez (27), and Josh Collmenter (31). Inconsistencies, injuries, and an overall inability to stay healthy have plagued this group. They are all still young enough to establish themselves as major league starters and could accept a one-year deal to increase their value in 2018.
Unfortunately, injuries are part of the game. Biagini should be the first call-up with Deck McGuire or Taylor Guerrieri likely to follow.
After this trio, Ryan Borucki or Thomas Pannone are expected to be next in line. Borucki and Pannone are high on the Blue Jays Top Prospect list and are expected to develop into back of the rotation starters.
Chris Rowley, last year’s feel-good story, and Luis Santos are also waiting in the wings. Rowley had a great 2017 minor league season but was unable to carry that success to the major leagues. Santos will likely fill the role of swingman in Toronto or Buffalo.
Chris Rowley made his major league debut in 2017 after starting the season with the Double-A Fisher Cats. In 2018, New Hampshire will have an assortment of Sean Reid-Foley, Jon Harris, Conner Greene, Jordan Romano, Francisco Rios, Angel Perdomo, and Conor Fisk occupying their rotation.
Greene will be taking his third swing at conquering Double-A. SRF, Harris, and Rios will be taking their second swings at Double-A. While Romano, Perdomo, and Fisk have a chance at making their Double-A debut.
Greene, SRF, and Harris need to work on their control. If they figure it that out, they could move up quickly.
Sure a Darvish or Arrieta would be great but come on, that’s not going to happen.
So, being a Blue Jays minor league system fanatic, I always pull for the internal options; however, I am actually hoping the Front Office signs one or two of Cashner, Santiago, or Garcia to fill out the rotation.
IF or WHEN the injury bug comes calling then Toronto can call on their minor system to help.
*Featured Image Courtesy Of DaveMe Images. Prints Available For Purchase.
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