Here’s a simple way for the Toronto Blue Jays to address their pitching needs this off-season: sign Max Scherzer and Robbie Ray. Or Kevin Gausman and Carlos Rodon. Grab Zack Greinke and Anthony DeSclafani while you’re at it. You can never have too much pitching, right?
If only it was so easy. The Blue Jays, like all teams, must work within a budget. And even if the club has somewhere north of $30-million in payroll to tap into this off-season, that’s probably only good enough to get one of the aforementioned arms — or two of them with little remaining to address the rest of the roster.
Plus, those players have earned the right to free agency and the right to turn down Toronto’s money in favour of someone else’s. It’s not like the Blue Jays are the only club looking for pitching this winter. And while Toronto gained leverage by being one of the few franchises aggressively seeking to add free agents last off-season, that won’t be the case this time around.
Decision-makers with the Seattle Mariners, Detroit Tigers, Texas Rangers, and Miami Marlins have all indicated they anticipate being active in free agency. Collectively, those four clubs spent only $66.85-million on free agents last off-season. This winter, each franchise is positioned to surpass that spending on its own. And that’s to say nothing of the perpetual bidders for premier talent in big markets like New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Houston.
Ultimately, for the Blue Jays to address multiple rotation and bullpen holes, they’ll have to get creative. They could come away with a Gausman, a Rodon, or even a Scherzer. But they’d still need to pair that frontline addition with more payroll-efficient secondary acquisitions.