With the signing of Ryu signalling a move forward for the Blue Jays, they should seriously consider extending their closer.
The Blue Jays have made significant additions to the ball club so far this off season.
Most notably to date, signing Hyun-Jin Ryu to a 4 year, $80 million deal is huge for the Jays, and not just because it gives them a legitimate number one starter through the 2023 season. Committing that kind of money to a top free agent is a signal regarding the direction of the club.
In 2019, Toronto was officially rebuilding. They traded away veteran players with 1-2 years of team control in favour of prospects/younger MLB players in the hopes that at least some of them could help the ball club in the future when they return to contending. Their 67-95 record in 2019 was a result.
The Ryu deal certainly isn’t about rebuilding. It’s about moving forward.
There is no point spending that kind of money unless management believes the team can win sometime during Ryu’s Jays tenure. Exciting words for Jays fans to be sure.
The question is how best to continue building the rest of the team to give them the best chance to win.
Let’s take a look at the closer situation.
Ken Giles has held that role for the Jays since they acquired him from the Astros in July 2018. In the past two seasons, he has had 49 saves with only one blown save.
The six year MLB veteran has impressive career numbers in era (2.67), FIP (2.37), BB/9 (2.7) and K/( (12.2). There is no doubt that when Giles is healthy, he is an elite stopper.
As it stands now, Giles is eligible for free agency after the 2020 season. Rumours were that the club came close to trading him before the 2019 deadline. Whether teams balked at Toronto’s asking price or were wary of the right elbow inflammation issues that saw him miss time during the season, Giles remains a Jay.
That may have been a huge blessing in disguise.
At age 29, Giles isn’t “over the hill” in MLB terms. He has appeared in 353 games over 6 seasons, pitching 347.1 innings. Yes he has had injuries but it is entirely possibly he could be healthy and effective for years to come.
Before the Ryu signing, it may still have been more likely that Giles would be traded either this off season or by the trade deadline in 2020. Signing Ryu may have changed that. Adding the 2019 MLB era leader is a giant step forward. Parting ways with their closer after doing so would be a big step back, especially without an obvious candidate in the system to replace him.
After the 1992 season, Tom “the terminator” Henke left the Jays via free agency. They filled the void internally with set up man Duane Ward. Ward led the American League with 45 saves in 1993.
Unfortunately the Jays don’t currently have such a luxury. Some people have suggested that Jordan Romano could be a future closer. His 12.3 K/9 rate with the Jays in 2019 is certainly intriguing. However his 5.3 BB/9 rate definitely needs improvement.
Giles has made no secret of the fact that he has enjoyed his time with the Toronto Blue Jays. If management makes him a competitive offer to stick around, it’s reasonable to think that they could come to terms.
Just as they took an $80 million gamble that Ryu will stay healthy, extending Giles is also worth the risk for Toronto.
*Featured Image Courtesy Of DaveMe Images. Prints Available For Purchase.
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