If the Jays have any intention of appearing like a serious contender in 2013– and it’s within their grasp to do so, and would almost certainly flush most of what’s left of the vast reservoir of goodwill they’ve built up in the early part of the Anthopoulos era if they didn’t– they’ll need to improve the overall quality of their starting rotation.

Aaron Laffey and Carlos Villanueva have filled in admirably this season; JA Happ is another depth option under team control; Chad Jenkins might be as well, or John Stilson, or Deck McGuire; Henderson Alvarez has been okay-enough to be a four or a five, but that’s not a terribly inspiring base of talent. And with injuries to the most promising of their young, near-ready arms– Kyle Drabek and Drew Hutchison– and confidence in the potential contributions of Brett Cecil and Dustin McGowan even less than where it was coming into this spring, it simply will not fly to hope to cobble together a trio of pitchers from this group to slot in behind Brandon Morrow and Ricky Romero.

Help must come from outside the organization, and with some dollars saved in the construction of the bullpen, cash in reserve due to international spending tamped down by the CBA keeping, and the mythical spectre of Rogers’ spending power ever looming, free agency has to be an option that’s on the table. So, who are some of the potential targets?

Well… these guys, basically.

Though, obviously some of these players may choose to re-sign with their current clubs, some may have options picked up unexpectedly, and there may be others whose options are declined or who are non-tendered that could change the nature of this list a bit by the time we get to the Winter Meetings in early December. But as it stands right now, here’s what the market for pitching looks like…

Zack Greinke

Now that Cole Hamels is off the market, the obvious crown jewel of the free agent market, and one that will draw considerable attention from the newly wealthy Dodgers, as well as the Angels, and other front offices not beholden to crippling layers of bureaucracy, an austere plan that enabled their employment, or a team president dead set against lengthy deals to pitchers, and probably smarting after the season had by Ricky Romero, the homegrown hurler for whom he bent the rules. Greinke likely will be too expensive and too coveted by others to be a serious candidate to land in Toronto.

Ryan Dempster

In 2012 Dempster has improved on his career low walk rate of last year by nearly three per cent, giving out free passes to just 6.6% of batters faced, while maintaining a strikeout rate of over 20%– as he’s done in the previous four years, each of which he’s also logged over 200 innings on the hill. He’s durable, effective, and is doing so all while his fastball velocity has slipped by about a mile per hour, down to 89.4 this season. At 35, though, he’s probably looking at one last multi-year payday, and he’ll be aiming to maximize it– plus, as we learned leading up to the trade deadline, he’s got a hankerin’ to play with his pal Ted Lilly on the suddenly cash-rich Dodgers. In other words, I wouldn’t hold my breath.

Anibal Sanchez and Edwin Jackson

Sanchez hasn’t blown the doors off since his move to the American League in a July trade that sent him and Omar Inflated to Detroit, but he was reliable in Florida, posting a sub-3.50 FIP the previous two seasons (including a 4.4 fWAR 2010), and exiting Miami having pitched well this year, before a pair of rough outings for the Tigers blew up his numbers slightly. He generates above average swing and miss, and was striking out a career high 24% of batters faced at the time he was dealt, with a career low walk rate as well. Provided this rough patch in the AL proves to be just a blip, he’s solid and dependable, if unspectacular… kind of like Edwin Jackson.

Jackson, and agent Scott Boras, found no long-term takers last winter, and the pitcher will be re-entering the market this year (minus the agent), following yet another workmanlike season, this time in Washington. Either he or Sanchez would be a fine fit in Toronto as a number three, especially on the kind of deal Jackson’s currently on– $11-million for a single year– or a two-year pact at a lower average annual value. Or maybe even more than that– what the hell do I know??? I’d wager they land somewhere for longer term, but I’d have said that this time last year, too.

Jake Peavy

Peavy is having the kind of terrific, healthy season that the White Sox hoped he was capable of when they acquired him from the Padres in 2009. Thing is, having to point that out kind of suggests that the previous years haven’t been so hot, doesn’t it? Peavy’s got a club option for $22-million next year, and while I suppose it’s possible the Sox pick it up, I just don’t think it reflects the market value for a guy who is on pace to hit 200 innings for just the first time since 2007, excellent as his 3.33 FIP, 3.08 ERA and 3.8 wins so far look. The south siders have a knack for keeping their pitchers healthy, so maybe I’m wrong and they hold onto him, but if not, he could be an intriguing name out there, provided some club doesn’t come along certain that his medical issues are behind him and willing to pay for talent and potential alone. The velocity isn’t quite what it used to be, but perhaps Peavy has successfully transitioned into a new phase of his pitching career. I’d be wary, though, of this kind of high-risk high-reward play.

Brandon McCarthy

Last year McCarthy finally put together the kind of season that the A’s, along with the Rangers and White Sox before them, thought he was capable of, posting a 2.86 FIP to go along with 4.7 wins above replacement in just 25 starts. But the thing is, he only made 25 starts, as he was bothered by a wonky shoulder… like he was this year, as well. And 2009. And 2010.

How much of a discount does that mean someone will get on McCarthy? The market will dictate that, but whichever club he lands with will likely have themselves a nice low-risk high-reward arm, even if any production they get from him has to be viewed entirely as gravy– making him an unlikely candidate for a club looking to prudently spend limited dollars.

Shaun Marcum

Familiar old Shaun Marcum lost it down the stretch and in the playoffs for the Brewers last year, but pitched well enough for most of the season to reach 200 innings for the first time, putting up 2.7 wins above replacement in the process. While nothing close to a hard thrower, he’s still got a great swing-and-miss changeup, and was on course for another fine season before elbow tighness sent him to the DL in mid-June. The injury red flags were part of the reason the Jays were comfortable enough to part with him two Decembers ago (getting Brett Lawrie in return was another big part), so maybe they’re not interested in bringing him back for that reason, but he was reportedly fond of playing in Toronto, would slot in nicely to the Jays’ rotation, and the whole falling apart down the stretch thing doesn’t come into play unless his club is actually playing for something, in which case… I’ll totally take it.

Kyle Lohse

I read a piece recently that mentioned something about Kyle Lohse looking for Mark Buehrle-type money this off-season, which the author thought might be difficult, on account of Lohse being older. Older! This blew my effing mind, but turns out to be absolutely true. And while Lohse has had a pair of very solid seasons in St. Louis the last two years, if I was a GM I’d be concerned about how he spent the better part of the last decade pitching like Kyle Lohse– or that my scouts were mixing up the two pitchers on account of their consonant-mangling last names. Not my idea of a guy to pay what he’ll be asking to come and pitch in the AL East.

Hiroki Kuroda

I almost feel weird even bothering to put Kuroda’s name on this list, because let’s face it: he’s probably going to remain a Yankee. I say that based on no special insight, nor on a growing chorus of innuendo or anything like that, but because he’s transitioned fabulously from the National League, and I’m pretty sure that if the Yankees want to retain them– and I can’t imagine why they wouldn’t– they’ll probably find a way to make it happen. If he did happen to hit the market, as an older pitcher who won’t necessarily be insistent on more than a one- or two-year deal, I’d be all over that. Not holding my breath, though.

Joe Saunders

Saunders, a soft-tossing lefty, is better than you probably think– which is to say, he’s about league average. With an uptick in his strikeout rate, fewer free passes issued, and the best numbers of a solid career, though, Saunders is in line for a decent payday as he hits free agency looking for a raise on the $6-million he made this year. If he fails to get to thirty starts, it will only be just barely, ending a string of four straight years in which he did so– including those where he pitched effectively for Anaheim, showing that he may not be merely a creation of the National League. He’ll probably require a deal of more than one year, and he’s not the kind of power arm you may prefer in the American League East, but with a wealth of arms hitting the market, he might see his value depressed, making him an interesting, cost-effective potential pick-up.

Colby Lewis

Lewis was leading the AL in K/BB ratio and was pitching to a career-low ERA when his season was lost in late July to elbow injury– not Tommy John, but a torn flexor tendon. “Pitchers return from this, though there’s not the precise recovery time frame that we see from Tommy John surgery,” wrote injury expert Will Carroll in a post at Sports Illustrated. “Lewis should be throwing around the time the Rangers open camp next February, but whether he’s ready to pitch at that point remains to be seen.”

That will certainly limit his options on the free agent market, and possibly push him out of the reach of a club looking to solidify their rotation, not take expensive fliers on guys. But a savvy GM– perhaps one using some creativity when it comes to the term of the offer– might be able to land an excellent pitcher where others are scared off. This kind of risk, though, may be better for a team who are better suited to spending for the luxury of a potentially great option, again, not one looking to use limited dollars to cement a key area of their roster.

Kevin Millwood

If the Jays feel confident enough in what they’ve got coming for 2014, and don’t see the value in the guys getting multi-year offers, or if they acquire a front-line guy and still want to add a second arm to reinforce the rotation, there are a number of guys who would fit the bill, and they could do a lot worse than looking at Kevin Millwood. Clearly not the guy he was long ago, Millwood has been solid this season in Seattle, putting up a 3.90 FIP outside of Safeco, and a 3.44 mark at home after signing a minor league deal with the Mariners last January, and making only $1-million. This followed a 2011 season spent mostly at Triple-A, bouncing around on minor league deals with the Yankees, Red Sox and ultimately the Rockies. Like all the arms from here down, there’s a definite chance the magic wears off, but the opportunity cost would be relatively minor.

Erik Bedard

Like Millwood, Bedard sure would have looked good in a Jays uniform this year, especially knowing what we know now about how decent he’s been, how he’s managed to stay healthy, and how four of the Jays’ top seven rotation options would get hurt and the other would be Brett Cecil. And he’s Canadian! But if Bedard gets to 130 innings this season (currently at 111), it will be the first time since 2007 that he’s crossed that threshold (barely missing it last year, with 129.1 innings pitched). He cost just $4.5-million for the Pirates and his 1.6 wins so far are equal to that of Matt Moore and Mat Latos… uh… and Dillon Gee, Vance Worley and Matt Belisle.

Bartolo Colon

Another once-great pitcher having a renaissance, Colon has pitched well in 2012 for the A’s– his fifth team in five years– posting a 3.73 FIP, which isn’t being suppressed by pitching in Oakland, as he has a 3.76 FIP while on the road. With 2.3 fWAR already he may be on his way to his best season since 2005 by that metric… which is precisely why he’s playing for just $2-million this year, after making $900K with the Yankees in 2011, after having signed with them on a minor league deal. Sure, he won’t likely come quite as cheap next time around, and it’s somewhat alarming that he’s thrown 10% more fastballs than the next highest qualified pitcher (89% of his pitches), but he looks like he should be able to help out the back of a rotation somewhere.

Francisco Liriano

Liriano has been something of an enigma his entire career, with an injury-plagued 2007 and ’08, and a shaky recovery year in 2009 bookended by four and six win seasons in 2006 and 2010. He  dealt with shoulder troubles all of last year, but has made 20 starts in 2012, looking better as the season progressed– especially past an ugly April and May. His walk rate isn’t where it was during the two brilliant campaigns of his career, but he’s still capable of getting strikeouts, and leads the Majors in swinging strike rate. The minimal price the White Sox paid to acquire him in trade from Minnesota suggests that there’s still a lot of concern there, even in just the short-term– and long-term there are red flags when it comes to health. But the salary and term of his next deal won’t be exorbitant, and if he continues pitching the way he has in the last three months, it certainly looks like he could help a club.

Joe Blanton

After injury woes in 2011, Blanton returned healthy to the Phillies’ rotation this season, and put up some nice numbers, if you’re willing to look past the ERA. He’s posted a 3.95 FIP, despite a HR/FB rate of 18.1% when pitching at home– a number that would be bad enough for third-worst in the Majors– compared to an 11.4% rate on the road. As such, his xFIP is an even more impressive 3.44, and he’s posting the highest strikeout and the lowest walk rates of his career. I can’t help but wonder if his best option may be to go to arbitration with the Dodgers– who traded for him last month– assuming they offer it. He makes $8.5-million this year, and a one-year pact with a raise on that is about equal to what the Yankees gave Hiroki Kuroda last winter coming off a similar season, statistically– if, again, you look past the ERA. Should Blanton hit the market, he too would be a decent addition to the back of a rotation.

Scott Baker

The Twins’ Baker went for Tommy John surgery back in April, and has a $9.25-million option for 2013, which it’s unlikely the club will pick up. He’d been plagued by elbow trouble since 2010, and if the surgery rights what’s been ailing him– and he’s able to return to form quicker than most– his next employer could end up with a relative steal on a guy who was worth between 2.5 and 3.5 wins every year from 2007 to 2011, with K/BB ratios that put him in the neighbourhood of the top 20 qualified starters in the league. A one-year deal with a modest salary and a nice option might be enough to land a very decent arm, provided the Twins let him go rather than pay $9-million for his first post-TJ go-round.

Carl Pavano

Though he’s missed much of this season with shoulder trouble, Pavano is rehabbing, and making his way back to health, appearing like he’ll be ready to go next spring, in whatever form he can muster. He showed over the previous two seasons in Minnesota that, when healthy, he’s capable of eating innings, surviving on his good command (a 3% walk rate in 2012), despite a lack of great stuff. However, his velocity before this season’s shoulder issues was down over two ticks from what was a career low of 89 in 2011, and any club looking at him would surely want to see that creep back up before considering him to be back close to the guy who averaged over three wins above replacement per season from 2009 to 2011. Possibly a useful piece, but not a guy that’s about to turn around a club’s fortunes.

Freddy Garcia

Garcia has been OK when pressed into duty for the Yankees this season, and was solidly average– though not a whole lot more– when making  25 starts for them in 2011, pitching to a 4.12 FIP and 4.36 xFIP. Hardly numbers to make anyone go rushing out to sign the aging veteran, but he’s more than just a warm body, even if the days of him being worth 3.5 or more wins– which he’s done six times in his career!– are behind him. Not the free agent solution to anybody’s rotation problems, but not a value-less piece of insurance either.

Jeremy Guthrie

Like every pitcher, it seems, Guthrie has struggled when asked to pitch for the Rockies, but before this season he rather unimpressively ate innings for Baltimore, posting a couple of two-plus win seasons in a row in 2010 and 2011, and a pair of 2.6 win efforts in ’07 and ’08. He’ll come cheap and he’s capable of not getting blown entirely apart in the AL East. Um… so there’s that.

Kevin Correia

After a relatively nice (read: league average-ish) year with the Padres in 2009, Correia has been pretty much bang on replacement level, posting fWARs of exactly zero in each of the two seasons heading into this one. He’s been slightly better this year, but the 4.82 FIP/4.53 xFIP is still pretty ugly. Look elsewhere.

Carlos Zambrano

Zambrano would come cheap and he isn’t that far from pitching to a sub-4 FIP– which he did in both 2009 and 2010– but the strikeout rate is way down from his heyday and the walk rate is up. Maybe he could rediscover some magic and a club will up getting a real bargain, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

Jonathan Sanchez

Even at the best of times, Sanchez has had trouble staying away from free passes, but this season has been an off-the-charts disaster for a guy who was at least useful for the Giants for a couple years. Traded to Kansas City after what appeared to be a down year, Sanchez absolutely fell apart, finding himself now a member of the Rockies, and currently on the DL. He’ll be available for a song, but… uh… there’s totally a reason for that.

 

Image via CBC.ca.

Comments (164)

  1. so what you’re saying is that 2013 isnt the year either.

  2. Well that was a depressing article. Fuckin jays

  3. Overall pretty slim pickings. One wonders if AA can bolster the rotation to a degree that makes the likes of marginal talents like Laffey/Alvarez/Villanueva/Happ etc. have to fight it out for 4th/5th spot, regardless of what extra $$ may be available.

  4. Seriously??? There are lots of options.

    • I agree. This seems like more options than in past seasons, but I definitely could be wrong on that.

      • There are many options as long as you aren’t fixated on an ace.

        Obviously an ace like Greinke would be nice, but two mid-rotation starters would suffice as well.

    • Yeah. These are starting pitchers available in Free Agency alone. Don’t forget trade options. Theres loads of options.

      Seriously – acquiring a #2/3 type guy and a #4/5 type guy should be doable. If Morrow is the real deal – that should do it, rotation-wise.

    • Did you hear AA on with Wilner. He basically said free agency is for when you are a piece or two away and that he thinks that is where we are now – and that the piece or two needed are rotation.

  5. is Jack Morris available?

  6. I’m glad AA is saying exactly what we think he should be saying. This team is not looking to sell because the offense (even with holes in LF, 2B and probably DH) and bullpen are playoff calibre.

    Even adding Jackson and Blanton (hardly sexy names) would go a long way.

    I’m guessing that AA will try to resign Villaneuva if he shows he can get through the season healthy and relatively effective, sign at least a #3 starter through free agency and then either look to the trade market or wait for another free agent to land in his lap, similar to what Washington did with Jackson.

    Happ, Laffey, Alvarez are fine as depth but nothing more.

    As skeptical as people are of Rogers (and rightly so), there is no reason for the general manager to come out and say he’s comfortable overpaying 1 or 2 players if he has no intention of following through.

    Mark my words. The payroll will be $100 million+ for 2013.

  7. So the trade market it is.

    • To be a true contender we need another really good SP, and a reliable SP for the backend of the rotation.

      i can see AA using trading for a controllable SP for the front end of the rotation, but signing one of these less than appetizing options to round out the rotation.

    • Honestly, how are people actually saying this? A number of fine options that won’t hamstring anything the club wants to do down the line. They’d be a lot better off with a Millwood and a Blanton right now– a LOT. (Well… maybe not a capitalized lot, but they’d be better, for sure.)

      • Especially Millwood. You said he was on a minor league deal, right? That would’ve been a serious help this season. AA should also look for a veteran SP he can get on a minor league deal, i.e., next years Millwood.

      • Even if the Jays signed Greinke to a contract with a $25MM AAV (I think it would be less – $20-21MM range), the Jays would still have a wealth of flexibility.

        http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2012/05/2013-contract-issues-toronto-blue-jays.html

        The Jays had $52MM committed to the 2013 season before they extended Edwin and made some trades. It’s entirely possible they could have a contract like that – unlikely, but just an example – make a couple other shrewd moves and still have a very competitive roster and a payroll under $100MM. If they were indeed competitive, that would leave them with room to make mid-season additions.

  8. I like the idea of taking a flyer on Scott Baker.

    I feel like we need to grab a few Laffey-types on minor league deals as insurance.

    • I like the idea as well, despite the recent injury issues. He put up some nice under-the-radar numbers in past seasons, and coming off an injury he will likely command a lot less than his option for next year (that the Twins will surely decline). Coming off TJ, he could at least compare recovery notes with Drabek, Hutchison and Perez.

  9. This might not be the right attitude to have….

    But at this point signing two of Edwin Jackson/Brandon McCarthy/Bartolo Colon/ Shaun Marcum/ Erik Bedard to a one or two year deal would be my preference… Assuming this is possible, I would say that’s the way to go…

    The Jays are going to have some pretty good pitchers going into 2014… As the big three in Lansing, Hutchison, and Drabek will all be back… Not to mention Stroman/ Stilson… Plus who know wheres Alvarez/McGuire/Jenkins will be at that point….

    That being said, I wouldn’t mind if they gave Jackson or McCarthy a long term deal given reasonable terms….

    And lastly, I think they should have Alvarez in the minors learning some secondary pitches… And call up Shaun Hill and let him eat some innings….

    • McCarthy/Bedard/Colon all carry significant injury risk. signing them off good/healthy seasons to a 2 year deal seems way too risky to me.

      • Risky vs what? Signing a young healthy guy to a 6 year deal?

        We have saved lots of money since AA took over. Hiring some solid pitching for 2 years until our studs in the minors arrive is perfectly prudent.

  10. I’m an option ya turkeys

  11. The thing with Marcum was apparently he liked Toronto a little too much. But even then, bringing him back would be fine with me. A rotation of Morrow, Romero, Marcum, Alvarez and whoever would be pretty good.

    There are trade options too, and given the new arms in the system, it might free up one of the big 3 in Lansing who will be one year older and one year closer to MLB. In the off-season they’ll have a full year’s worth of info on these prospects that they didn’t have when guys like Gio Gonzalez were on the market, which should allow them to make a smarter move. As we’ve been saying over the last month, this team knows their prospects better than anyone else, so hopefully that information can be used to the Jays’ advantage.

    • Toronto, or just the Underground?

      As for the Lansing three, I think we’re getting close to seeing Sanchez as pretty much off limits in any feasible trade. Unless it’s for multiple years of control of a very, very good pitcher. Six years of Sanchez is a lot to give up, I think.

      • I agree.

        Off the top of my head, I can’t recall if any of the three could really be singled out during last off-season as being the top guy, which would have made a trade in the off-season harder to make without doubts. Sanchez is clearly tops, but I think for most clubs the other two would be intriguing, and the extra time to evaluate them means AA can maybe give up the one he feels is less likely to pan out.

        • I think Syndergaard was, thus no deal for Gio in the offseason

        • I guess I don’t take as optimistic a view as Stoeten. Are there names there? Sure, like there are every year. Guys like Millwood, Colon, Garcia are non-roster invite types. You can conjure up a few of them each year and most do not do well, while some do OK. Remember the Ohka, Thomson, Zambrano fiasco? Extreme example, I know.

          The names of guys that are not old and have enough legitimate upside to make it worthwhile for a contending team like the Jays (Peavy, Jackson for example) are pretty limited and that makes me sad, and thinking we may have to wait for the Lansing 3 after all.

      • Sanchez is hurt right now and apparently was flown to Florida recently to have “it” looked at. Does anyone know what happened? Elbow?Shoulder? Other?

        • All Jays pitching prospects are now required to have TJ surgery prior to being called up by the big club.

    • “The thing with Marcum was apparently he liked Toronto a little too much.”

      ??

      • Yea, curious as to what this means as well. Is there a story?

        • Stoeten wrote the story down a few lines above: “Toronto, or just the Underground?”

          • Thanks, I’ve obviously missed the subtleties within that 5 word exposé. I’ll read it again and try to get the full picture.

            Does anyone have anything useful to add about this?

          • Oh now it all makes sense. The underground. Yup I’ve been talking about the underground for a while now. Those damn undergrounders!

        • A few weeks ago Zaun said that Marcum “likes Toronto as much as I do” -not verbatim but that was the general comment. He implied it was a factor in why he was traded.

          Coming from Zaun, I would take it with a grain of salt. Or two.

      • in mid 2008 Marcum was sent down to AAA, despite pitching very well, after missing a between start throwing session with “flu like symptoms” for at least the second time. Reportedly those symptoms were due to excessive partying.

  12. I’m all about Colby Lewis.

    –Oshawa Ollie

  13. Stoeten, if you were AA and were targeting 2 guys (like he suggested) for the 2013 season and slightly beyond, who would you pick, realistically speaking (no Greinke or Kuroda).

    My guess would be Liriano, Bedard, maybe Baker, or if they’ll really take a chance, Peavy. Yours?

    • Of those listed, I am think Marcum/Millwood/McCarthy would be the most attainable for us.

      If that is the case, and barring trade, I would be happy if 2 of the 3 listed above were signed.

      Leaving, Alvarez/Happ/Charlie V to fight it out for the 5th spot. Perhaps Alvarez to minors and Cecil/Charlie V in bullpen for emergency starts and Chad Jenkins in AAA (in BUFFALO???) as an emergency call-up as well.

      • God no to marcum. He couldn’t pitch in this division when he was younger. Why would we get him back now?

        • Yeah he could, look at his numbers with Toronto. But I agree I wouldn’t want him back too many injuries

  14. I could be wrong, but the one thing that I think will work against AA is that more teams than ever will be looking to contend in 2013 due to the extra playoff spot.

    Even teams that knew they were out of it tried as long as they could to hold on (i.e. Milwaukee) to keep the fanbase engaged.

    I think there will be a lot of money flying around this winter. Even more than usual.

  15. I could see AA landing Greinke and Jackson.

    I’m sure there’s a great deal at the bottom of the list, but we don’t really have room for them to figure it out unless they’re willing to sign a minor league contract, which eliminates most of that list; and we already have our own could-be-awesome-if-he-stays-healthy in Dustin McGowan.

  16. I don’t see a huge difference between Villaneuva / Happ and most of the guys on that list…

    We need one front line guy even if its a high price (money / prospects or both)

    • You don’t? Villanueva is a fringe starters, the ones on the list have proven track records (although a lot of them have troubling injury histories).

      • Villanueva needs to show he can scale his performance to >150 IP before he will be considered equivalent. By no means a trivial feat.

  17. Jack Morris is a free agent? Awesome!!!

  18. Can we get an available in trade with theoretical asking price post next???

  19. Short of acquiring a top of the rotation starter this offseason will be a failure. An ace is required to push Morrow to a very good #2 and Romero to a very good #3. Starting at the top and letting the #4 #5 pieces fall into place is a better strategy than requiring a couple of these lottery tickets to have outstanding seasons to have a chance

    • Meh, an Ace would be amazing but I don’t see Felix/Cain/Kershaw/Verlander/Weaver/Price being available. I think 2 of Lewis/Haren/Mccarthy would be just as good if not better. I would also be curious to see if the Jays see anything in Lincecum. Still has his K rate, and swing and miss% just struggling with location. If the Jays could get him for cheap I would be excited they would just have to foot the 20M per year bill.

  20. Wilner tweeted something around the trade deadline about a source who said Greinke was unwilling to waive his NTC to come to Toronto. I can’t be bothered to look it up since the dude has > 27k tweets, but if that’s the case, he’s probably not even a pipe dream.

  21. I could see jays being runner up to every FA pitcher

  22. holy moly mr. Stotes, this is the stuff. this is the kind of article worth a bit of a read. nicely done and good to see some good sense coming back to the pages of this blog.

  23. So you are saying that the Jays have to make a move on Grenkie, and carry 2 young arms instead of 3

  24. Maybe the Hiroshima Carp’s Kenta Maeda will be posted for auction this winter? We can re-live the Darvish hysteria!

  25. Now that I think about it AA did mention acquiring pitchers both in trade and as free agents. Perhaps one of each?

    Perhaps a Cliff Lee + an Edwin Jackson might be more realistic.

  26. I still think they should go after Garza who will be much cheaper to obtain via Trade. Epstein shit the bed by not trading him for a reasonable return last off-season instead of asking for the moon; now he’ll be lucky to get a couple of replacement arms and a middle of the road prospect.

  27. This really isnt rocket science. Sign Jackson or even Marcum. Then Make Happ your number five. Then you have all sorts of insurence in Drabek, when hes healthy, McGowen if he suprises you, whateve rminor league dudes you have etc. People say pitching wins and that is true, but if you have a high caliber offense and a strong bullpen, like the Jays do then you just have to do you best becaues pitching is super finnicky and it makes no sense to trade young pitching prospects for anything beceause conversely it is extremely dumb to trade for a pitcher (unless you are trading other pitchers in a Morrow League type swap) because pitchers get injured and outside of a few freaks do not perform reliably year to year. Best just stock up on mid range guys, hope to get luckey with your prospects and try to win with things you can control, like, i dont know, not batting kelly johnson cleanup and having actual bench players.

  28. I don’t know if you guys noticed, but we traded Thames for miracle worker Steve Delabar, his velocity training program is gonna add 3mph to everyone’s fastball, that should fix our rotation.

    • Which is why we should bring back Marcum. That extra 3mph might make what he throws actually qualify as a fastball…

  29. The Jays sold tickets and raised TV rating this season based on sizzle. A hope that everything falls perfectly into place that this team was on the verge of something good.

    We now know what they need, but will they pony up the $$ tio get it?

    I really don’t care what AA says at this point. New uniforms, flashy TV ads and tweeting Tuesdays won’t sell tickets next season. Management has to show the fans they mean business by acquiring two or three starting pithcers, as well as a few holes in the every day lineup.

    • Isn’t that exactly what AA said?

      What he’s been saying for the last few months about now focussing on the ML club is positive. But what he said yesterday is very different and I see no reason to make that kind of declaration if you don’t mean it.

      That would piss off the fanbase far more than being delibirately vague.

      • He can say whatever he likes. Until he actually does it, no one’s going to buy it.

        You can only BS that you were “close to signing” xxx player so many times. Performance talks, and right now all I see are more promises, and no actions.

        • Actually I’m pretty sure AA has done exactly what he said he was going to do fairly consistently.

        • I’m sorry that AA can’t push up free agency 3 months to satisfy you.

          The point is that the message HAS changed from the GM and that in itself is significant.

          Last offseason OTHER people were saying what the Jays should do, how much they should spend etc.

          AA is basically saying now is the time which is unequivically positive.

          • It’s surprising how few people have missed this. AA’s never come right out and said “we intend to contend next season and will dip into the free agent market”.

        • Such complete and utter horse shit. You’re like a broken record…made of horse shit.

          • Great retort. When reality shows that you’ve been wrong all this time, it’s so much easier to just insult people.

            Seems like a lot of others finally realize that what I’ve been saying for almost a year now may be the correct way to go. Others just like to spew out insults.

        • The product on the field before the injuries was ok by me. Lawrie Rasmus Bats EE are wicked. Escobar and JPA are both above average for there positions. That is 6 of the starting nine. A Lind platoon at DH/1B and Sierra in LF could be more then servicable if you ask me.

  30. I think Marcum would be a good fit. I felt like when they traded him (we ripped off the Brewers for Lawrie) we lost an important part of the rotation. He was the leader and the veteran presence of that rotation. We need a vet like that to talk to our struggling starters to keep them focused. Then go out there every 5 days and prove it. I think Marcum was/still is that guy.

  31. you suckers…wait til next March, you’ll see. Cheap ass Rogers won’t open the vault for any of the pitchers on this list.

    • Because they don’t pay for anyone, like remember when they didn’t pay Bautista after his breakout year, or Edwing after he finally got consistent.

      • Yea, because every internal signing has worked out perfectly, and every free agent has been a bust.

        Well’s, Lind’s, and Hill’s contracts were just as bad for the team as Ryan’s, Burnett’s and Thomas’.

        Paying for talent has zero to due with how you get it. It’s being able to judge properly how much it’s worth.

        • I agree completely, I was not saying that internal signing is the answer as opposed to Free Agents, I was just saying that it’s not like Rogers is refusing to pay for players at fair value. Besides Greinke, these pitchers salary demands won’t be out of reach of the budget that Rogers sets for the year.

          • The reply wasn’t specifically directed to you. It seems to be a common thread here that all free agents are bad, and all internal signings and trades are good.

            It comes down to being able to judge and project future talent levels, and what bthat’s worth $$ wise.

        • Those were al JP not sure how that is relevant? That further backs the point that the Jays will spend when the GM thinks they are ready.

  32. So, let me get this straight. Last offseason, we were not “one player away” from contending…so fuck it….we dont need anything like fielder on this team. what a waste.

    now ONE year later..we are kevin millwood and kyle loshe away from the playoffs.

    someone needed to remind AA that Fielder would actually still be here in 2013 had they signed him…even if 2012 turned out to be a right off.

    Im not saying that AA isn’t correct in that they are two legit starters (and a heck of injury luck) from contending next year, but fuck that means going into LAST offseason he was being disingenuous about our chances. Without knowing the injuries were going to happen, how could you look at 2013 that much differently than 2012?

    • What? You dont think the MVP like performances of Gose and Hechevaria (as well as jan gomes) has shifted thinking about contention forward?

    • Who would you rather be locked into right now at 1B, Fielder at 20 mil a year for the next decade, or Edwing for 9 a year for 3 years? Rogers is running this team as a profitable busiess, not a fantasy team.

      • fielder is a fucking lazy useless fielder. i have watched him stand there with his thumb up his ass while a missed out is his fault. fuck him i will take EE … and people are forgetting the detriment to fielder is the later years not now. so fuck off you fielderds

    • I agree, I’m not entirely sure what changed from last off season to this upcoming off season. Sure EE got hot, but Esco regressed, Snider couldn’t hold the job, Johnson shit the bed, Lind is still Lind and our prospects aren’t any closer to being major league ready. (Depending on D’Arnaud’s injury)

      Not to mention our starting pitching somehow got considerably worse.

      Is our now “great” bullpen the reason were are ready to compete?

      • I feel more confident with Lawrie, Rasmus, Bat & EE as core position player pieces and Escobar, JPA/D’arnaud as supplemental pieces.

        I feel more confident that a rotation of Romero/Morrow and a bunch of prospects/fodder is not good enough to contend.

        I feel more confident that the Blue Jays will not have to use free agency for relievers this offseason (if Oliver is back) because Janssen, Oliver, Lincoln, Santos and perhaps Delabar, Loup, Stroman et al should provide an above average bullpen and there will hopefully not be a need for a Cordero-like experiment.

        Not every question heading into 2012 was answered in a positive manner. But I’d say the picture is far clearer in terms of who should be counted on for a contending team.

      • Colby Rasmus, Edwin Encarncion, Brendan Morrow and Casey Jansen; above average to all-star CF, 1B, SP and CP. Escobar hasn’t had a great year, but he’s still a good bet to be above average again next year. They also know that they definitively need a LF and a DH. There were a lot more question marks going into this year than there will be next year.

        • A lot of people thought Janssen should have been the closer going into this year, he had an oustanding 2011, shouldn’t have been a surprise to anyone.

          Colby has put together 1 and a half months of great baseball and 4 months of complete shit as a Blue Jay. If he finishes the year hitting like he did in June, and not like he did in April, May and July my confidence will skyrocket.

          Morrow “probably” turned the corner, but his dominance this year was in a pretty small sample size. We all know what he is capable of, but unless he can stay healthy and consistent he is not an ace…yet.

          Edwin was a pleasant surprise

          • Obviously it’s a small sample size, 7 games, but so far in August Rasmus has been batting .345/.387/.586, good for a .973 OPS.

    • Last off-season, our questions were:

      +Can Rasmus recover his old form, that form which made him so valuable in the first place?
      +Can Adam Lind play like he did during his career year?
      +Can Edwin be the answer at DH?
      +Which of our many young pitchers will be the one who stands out from the crowd and becomes a part of our rotation? And who doesn’t stick and needs to be replaced?
      +Is Brett Lawrie going to be alright his second time through the league?
      +Who wins the battle of LF, Snider or Thames?
      +Which of our high-ceiling pitching prospects will be the one that turns into an ace, and which ones can we get rid of?
      +Who is the long-term answer at 2B? Is Kelly Johnson worth a long-term extension?
      +Does Arencibia take the next step forward, or is D’Arnaud the long-term answer?
      +Our bullpen sucks. Who do we get?

      The answers we got were yes, no, yes, Hutchison, possibly Drabek/Alvarez, alright enough I guess, neither, all of the Lansing three?!?!, still don’t know, no, not really on JPA and probably but can’t be sure on D’Arnaud, and you all know the answer to this one.

      This offseason, our questions are as follows:
      +We have at least one, probably two gaping holes in the rotation, and no young pitchers ready to fill them. Who do we acquire/pay?
      +Is Gose the long-term answer at LF or do we acquire someone else?
      +Is Hechavarria the long-term answer at 2B/SS, and if not who do we get?
      +Who is the long-term answer at catcher?
      +Does Janssen close next year or does Santos get the job back?

      Note how this offseason’s question list is significantly shorter than last offseason’s question list. Further, the questions have fairly obvious answers save for the starting pitching question: on Gose and Hech, you give them playing time in the majors or minors and wait; you let D’Arnaud catch in the big leagues and see what happens before trading away JPA; and only Farrell can answer the closer question.

      Thus we’re in a different place than we were last season. We didn’t know what we had then; now, for the most part, we do.

      • We still have no idea what we really have outside our core 8. (Jose, EE, Lawrie, Rasmus, Esco, Morrow, Romero?, Janssen)

        Gose and Hech are not ready for the majors, they have already been forced up too early and quite possible will be the favourites to start 2013 even without a huge off season improvement. No matter how bad they were, Thames/Snider and Johnson were better options going into last season as Gose and Hech next season.

        JP did not take a step forward, and D’Arnaud’s progression was delayed. Not sure if the team wants to start him in AAA and save some service time (ala Lawrie) or start him in the majors coming off a half season.

        As good as the Lansing 3 have looked, they are still way too far away to be sure things, I’d still be happy if ONE of them became a top rotation starter.

    • He would be here at 25+M per year how the fuck are they going to fit 2 SP’s into the budget then? Good thinking dumbass. I will take EE at first thank you.

  33. As a first step in addressing the Jays’ starting pitching needs, the Jays should move to a 4-man starting rotation. Voila! One of their 3 starting pitching voids has now been “filled.”

    • Four man? By May there would be one shred of tissue attatched to the elbow of these guys. If anything they need a 10 man rotation.

      • Now we’re talking. Let’s discuss the merits of having a 3 inning max on all pitchers and having them pitch more often for shorter stretchs. then we have guys like Villenuava, Lincoln, Perez, Laffey, pitching a 2 innings every 3 days and then a bunch of one inning guys that pitch every other day. Use the nearly the entire roster for pitching, and only keep Wok with Yan and Mckoy as your bench position guys.

        THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX PEOPLE!

    • I’m amazed 4-man rotations were not addressed by Sarbanes-Oxley…

  34. Anyone read BA’s rather sad scouting report on Deck McGuire in this week’s “Not-so Hot” sheet. They say he sits 86-89, occasionally hitting 92. They say this sometimes happens to college pitchers in their adjustment from pitching once a week, to every five days. Right handed Brett Cecil. Uggghh.

    Also, Dan Haren might be available this off season. He has a 16million or so club option, and he hasn’t had that great of a year. But, you know as the VDub contract shows , Anaheim obviously has money to burn.

  35. Can we sign Eric Bedard and Rich Harden, then trade for Scott Diamond.

    MAPLE BONERS!

  36. If the Jays maintain their >5k rise in attendance through the season, that should be worth ~$6m to $10m in budget (ballpark but that’s just $15 – $25 gross margin per fan per game…). You could make a case that amateur FA and draft spending restrictions could push ~$5m more into the MLB kitty and then there is the money transfers for TV being adjusted (impossible to say, but could be 8 digits).

    With the Jays likely able to spend a bit more (yes, I know, some think they are chronically unwilling… perhaps they’re right) and only one clear area of need, this list is a lot more interesting than it would be otherwise. Hotstove wet dreams… all winter long… I don’t know if I can take this.

  37. The thing is this: Ricciardi use to get a 90 million dollar payroll, I don’t see why Rogers wouldn’t give that to AA is he wanted it. I honestly think AA just hasn’t wanted to spend his money yet. It sounds like that’s changing. But we’ll see.

    • Completely agree. Nice to see a sensible comment about Rogers Budget for the Jays in these comments, much less 2 in arow.

    • Yes… AA has shown he can do “cheap”. Now let’s see if he can do “good”.

      • He did Cheap, young and good.

        Spending is like putting the cherry on top. However the cherry is shitty with out the ice cream and fudge underneath (ie all the young talent AA assembled)

  38. If Shields can be had from the Rays, you’ve gotta get him… I realize that the Rays might now be willing to deal him to a division rival, but if they ARE, AA needs to pounce. TB may raise the premium on him to trade him to Toronto, but dang… he’d be nice to have…

  39. I’d sign McCarthy and then acquire another starter through a trade. I think Greinke will get beyond 5 years on the open market and as for the trade route – how about Felix Hernandez? He would cost a lot in prospects but the Mariners are not close and have young arms coming up. The Jays have the prospects and could help fill some holes for them.

    Fernandez, Romero, McCarthy, Morrow, Alvarez would be strong and have plenty of other arms for bullpen/AAA/trades.

    • Everyone wants Felix. But the Mariners have yet to see a deal they were willing to take obviously… and in fact I don’t think anyone really knows if he’s ever been on the market (never been confirmed to be so).
      AA could try to blow the Mariners away with a deal for Felix (and Larry of course), but my god the cost would likely be astronomical.

    • I think the amount of prospects you’d have to give up for Felix would not fit with AA’s plan of building a perenial contender. He’s not looking for a 1-2 year window for success, he’s trying to build more of Tampa team that is a threat every year.

      • still….. would be so awesome…. *drool*

      • I’m sure the package of prospects would be large, but reality is Felix is only signed for 2013 and 2014, so it might not be a matter of if they trade Felix, but when. Seattle could use a young controllable catcher (Arencibia – I know they have Montero but how long will he catch for?) and pitching prospects.

        Also – great article Stoeten.

        • They also have Zunino, who the drafted this year. He’s already in AA. Granted he’s still probably a year or so away… but it could be less.
          Doubt they’d want another bad defensive catcher in ‘Cibia anyway.

          I think they’d want something more like: Lawrie, Sanchez and more.

    • Hernandez would be fucking sick.

    • I completely agree with acquiring someone of Felixs ilk. That allows guys to be placed in a role where their talent can easily meet expectations for that roster postion. At this point morrow has not proven for any length of time that he can successfully headline a rotation. Slotting him and Romero as a 2-3 in the rotation fixes the 4-5 spots as well because those starters aren’t required to pitch like the 2-3-4 like they were this year. Hutch should have been our 5th instead of the 3rd this year

      • It’s funny how much of a premium we place on the Lansing 3. Who knows? One or all may end up as a weak #1 or even turn our to be legit #2.

        Felix is a once in a generation talent who has been toiling away in Seattle for years now. If he could be extended, I’d cough up 2/3 of the Lansing 3, + 2 other prospects + JPA (don’t know if Seattle has a catching need) to land Felix.

        Even then I’m not sure Seattle does that deal.

      • I think you can cut and paste the Felix comments here onto every single message board of all the teams in MLB. The price would be incredibly high. I for one don’t think the team is close enough to mortgage the farm for one pitcher.

      • Yeah. The problem with a Felix deal is that no team has the prospects it takes to acquire Felix.

        I mean, Texas might have to give up Profar, Olt, and Andrus (converted to 2B), just to get the Mariners to think about it; and that trade wouldn’t make sense for Texas.

        Ultimately, if you had those kind of prospects, wouldn’t it make more sense to keep them, then to throw them on an ace who pitches once every five days, and who like every pitcher is one bad pitch away from tommy john surgery?

        Therefore the Mariners will never get fair market value for Felix, and that’s why they’re going to keep him.

    • Trading for Felix would require trading Lawrie.

      There’s no way the Blue Jays trade our Prime Minister.

    • The longest/most expensive contract that was given to a right handed starter was this year Matt Cain is 6 year 127. Greinke’s will be in that range. I think that is affordable by the Jays, it is just if Greinke wants to play in Canada.

  40. That’s a depressing collection of arms…at least the realistic options.

  41. I’d aim for Anibal Sanchez, but if you can’t get him, target Shaun Marcum as backup.

    Then trade for a starter. Sign one, and trade for one.

  42. The Jays won’t sign any pitcher worth a lick.

    That would take money, and they’re too CHEAP.

  43. I think a lot of people here are really under valuing the SP depth available this year in the free agent market. If they sign any one or two of the upper two then this team should compete for a playoff position next year. I think people are also under valuing morrow. Has he proven to be a legit ace? No. But he has proven to be a legit top of the rotation starting pitcher with a very realistic ace ceiling. Those don’t grow on trees. Hopefully we trade for Upton or Choo.

  44. Trade whatever the fuck it takes for King Felix and add a Sanchez or Jackson and away we go.

  45. I don’t know why so many people want Greinke. His splits against AL East are horrible. He’s already struggling a bit in the West.

  46. I meant sign any one or two of the upper echelon sp (not necessarily the top two.) peavey and Sanchez would work just fine.

  47. Alvarez, D’Arneau, Syndegard, does that at least start a conversation on Felix?

    • Nope, D’Arnaud’d be blocked at C & 1B By MOntero & that other dude they just drafted & promoted to AA..
      Would be nice though…

    • No Alvarez would be a 5th starter/long relief, D’Arnaud would be sandwiched between Montero and Zunino. Mariners need OF and 3B badly. If Marsinik was tearing it up this year he would need to be the first name mentioned. However he is hitting .200 in AA.

  48. If the Jays get a pitcher like Guthrie, Zambrano, and Jonathan Sanchez….. Their pitching rotation would be like a HELL…..
    Jays already have so many pitchers who give up a lot of walks, or tons of home runs. Zambrano, Sanchez doesn’t have control… and Guthrie gives up so many home runs…

    The Jays need pitchers who doesn’t give up many home runs since Rogers Centre is hitters friendly….

    We need some groundball pitchers like Kyle Lohse, or McCarthy… Many people say Henderson Alvarez is a groundball pitcher, but HE IS NOT!!!!

  49. In addition to the pitching I still want to see them sign someone like Bourn or Cabrera this winter. Bourn would push Colby to Left while Cabrera would slot in at Left. Getting one of those guys makes Gose or Marisnik expendable right away. Having one of them available as a centerpiece for a trade for a #1 or #2 starter with years of control would be a great start. Signing a veteran like Bourn or Cabrera also eliminates any learning time for Gose or Marisnik and immediately improves the outfield defensively and offensively. Getting your #1 or #2 starter via trade leaves you a lot more wiggle room in signing a #3 or #4 starter. It also would likely cost less than signing someone like Greinke and that 2nd starter. In fact both would probably cost just a little more than Greinke himself. You could throw $10-12 million per year at a Bourn or Cabrera and the same amount at someone like Jackson. The controllable starter you got back in a trade would be making probably no more than $1 or $2 million due to his years of control. Even if you had to settle for a starter with just 2 years of control left and who was making $5 to $7 million a year you could still get all three for roughly $30 million.

    • I was thinking more signing two of peavey Jackson Sanchez hareb types and trading for a left fielder like uptown or choo.

    • Bourn will cost between 18-22M per year. That is a lot of coin for a team that need SP’s not an OF’er. Melky has never heard of taking a walk and his BABIP is through the roof. I would recommend not paying for a career year, you are only going to turn on the guy unfairly.

  50. i’ve got an idea, lets sign AJ Burnett and Gil Meche.

  51. Hayhurst was saying today that the anti-Toronto FA bias is meaningful. Probably less so for non-americans who have to deal with passport issues whether playing in canada or the us.

    I say go for Marcum, who likes Toronto’s strip clubs, and Anibal Sanchez, who can be part of the Latino core of the club.

    • I am at the game in section 118r.

      Looking sadly at left field where Travis iused to play. He should be on the wall of excellence next year .

  52. Dillon Gee?

  53. go suck a travis dick you mellonheaded cocksucker.he is gone you whiny fuck get over it

  54. Little bird tells me that AA really likes Justin Masterson of the Indians. He would slot in nicely into the rotation with his plus plus sinker. And and meets the proverbial team friendly terms that is so appealling to the bean counters at Rogers.

    The Tribe needs some RH outfielders with some pop. I could see Sierra going the other way, along with some pitching prospects and maybe and arm like Beck.

    • I would actually love to see them make an offer for Masterson to see if he co could be pried loose. Not an elite ace by any means but a legitimate top-mid rotation starter who might be had for a reasonable price.

  55. HALLADAY!?!?! HELLO!!!

  56. how many of those guys get qualifying offers (around 1 year and $13.4M)? i would guess ejax, peavy, and kuroda… i’m not sure that AA would give up his first rounder to sign one of those guys… so that might narrow the options a little bit.

    • Isn’t it just a supplemental pick to the current team? No loss for the signing team…?

      • signing team loses it’s first round pick (top 10 protected)… but that pick just vanishes… it doesn’t go to the team that loses the player they just get the supplemental pick.

  57. We are having a bad year people. It happens. Its bad luck. Players have bad years(Romero). If anything…ive been impressed with the depth we have. Our bullpen in under control and looks very strong right now. Next year we have Santos back to add to a strong bullpen. How would our opinion of the starting staff be with 2011 Romero and 2012 Morrow playing all year. Most players struggle at 21 when they get called up the 1st time(Gose/Hech). Sierra has been great. I am just fine with Sierra/Gose fighting for LF in 2013. I think Sierra wins the job the next 40 games. That solves LF. I am also ok with Cooper at 1st. Replacing Snider, Lind, Kelly Johnson with Cooper/Sierra/Hech is not a huge drop off in production imo.Carlos/happ/laffey/Alveraz are very good at #5. So a reliable #3 is all we really need. That and a season opposite to this one in terms of injuries. Top #3 offense + 2011 Romero + 2012 Morrow +FA+ our current guys +top5 bullpen is a very good team. I’m sure that is what AA is thinking. Not cheap…just realistic. He will get a solid #3 type. If the cards fall right we can have a good year. Hech has improved every year and Sierra has come on. They could be pleasant surprises next year. Many young players take a huge step in year 3—Lawrie could put up 340/410/550 next season. Basically we have a very good team that got smashed with bad luck. But luck works both ways.

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