The Toronto Blue Jays rebuild is focused mainly on youth but they would do well to add veteran Shoemaker to the mix.
The 2019 season has always been about building for the future for the Blue Jays. They are building a core of young position players. Bo Bichette, Vladimir Guerrero jr, Cavan Biggio, Lourdes Gurriel jr, Danny Jansen and Reese McGuire appear to be safe bets to stick with the team and contribute. Other players such as Randal Grichuk (who is under contract through 2023), Teoscar Hernandez and Rowdy Tellez have been inconsistent but have talent and the potential to join the first group if they can contribute more consistently.
One of their biggest needs, going forward, is pitching. The Jays traded Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez and released Clayton Richard. Their only veteran in the rotation is Clay Buchholz who is on a one year deal, eligible for free agency after this season.
The rest of the rotation consists of rookies Trent Thornton, Jacob Waguespack, T.J. Zeuch and Anthony Kay, all of whom should be in the mix for rotation spots in 2020. Thomas Pannone has also started games for the Jays, but they may have decided his best role is in relief. Presumably Sean Reid Foley would also warrant consideration but curiously he has not been among the September call ups.
Matt Shoemaker is under team control and arbitration eligible for 2020. Per Shi Davidi, the Jays and Shoe have had talks and he is interested in sticking around
As Anthony Kay and Alek Manoah offered #BlueJays glimpse of future Matt Shoemaker aims to be part of present. They’ve talked. “Man, I want to be here. I can see the excitement, the potential. … I just think it would be really great to be here long-term.” https://t.co/XcVfETlS44
— Shi Davidi (@ShiDavidi) September 14, 2019
Shoe pitched very well for the Jays in 2019 before suffering a torn ACL while executing a run down. The play looked harmless at the time but it ended up being a season ending injury for Shoe.
Before that, he went 3-0 in 5 start with a very fine 1.57 era. If he pitches anywhere close to this well in the future, he would be an enormous help to the Jays in 2020 and possibly beyond that.
As we have all seen this season, you can never have too much pitching depth. Due to trades, injuries and sub-par performances, Toronto has used 20 different starting pitchers in 2019. Admittedly some of those were “openers” rather than true starters, then again if they had five solid starting pitchers they wouldn’t need to use openers.
Shoemaker has had an unfortunate history of injuries over the last three season and as a result, he has pitched in only 26 games from 2017-2019. The flip side to this is that due to this history, the Jays might be able to sign him for a relatively team friendly contract.
Another reason to consider keeping him around beyond 2020 is veteran leadership. The players currently on the 40 man roster have an average age just over 25, and that could get even younger with the possible departures of 32 year old Justin Smoak and 34 year old Clay Buchholz, both of whom are eligible for free agency after this season.
Even considering the Jays youth movement, you need a few experienced veterans to help steer the ship.
Unfortunately, Toronto often has a hard time signing free agents who have never played here. Many MLB players are American and it is at least understandable that they prefer to play for one of the 29 U.S based teams. If a quality pitcher and person like Shoemaker sees the upside in this team and wants to stay long term, it would be a good move for them to extend him.
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