It’s that time of the year when many of us stare into our crystal balls, which usually lead to nowhere land, as we try to guess what the Toronto FO will do this offseason.
A shit ton of Jays writers and bloggers are going to write their ‘the Jays should target this guy’ pieces and bang their offseason thought drums loudly. Shit, I’m sure I will type us some offseason nonsense noise, too.
MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm shared some direct quotes from Ross Atkins, who spoke to reporters at the General Managers Meetings in Carlsbad, California, on Monday night. Atkins made it crystally clear that pitching depth is where they are focusing all of their energy.
Sadly, I wasn’t able to attend the scrum because we don’t have it in the Nation Network’s budget for that stuff and because none of us have press passes. So, I am going to just pull some quotes from Chisholm’s piece and share them with you here.
Chisholm notes in his article that the Jays rotation is probably going to consist of Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez, and Ryan Borucki and that prospects Sean Reid-Foley and Thomas Pannone will hurl for a spot in the rotation this Spring Training, but this is stuff we already know. Atkins had this to say about their offseason focus:
“Looking to build around the young pitching that we do have and create more depth will be our focus. That could come in several ways. It could be free agency, it could be via trade, any way that can possibly get more depth for our pitching will really set us up to complement our pitching really well.”
So who is going to compliment their starting pitching really well? Charlie Morton? I mean, sure he would, but sipping on this idea will just lead to a really bad hangover. If you believe that the Mort is going to end up in Toronto, you’re probably smoking some good indica, or you’re drunk. It’d be cool if they did sign him, so…make it happen, Ross.
But, since the Mort thing is about as realistic as a plot in a shitty Dean Koontz novel, does the front office go after the Happ? I’m sure that rumour will blow around in the shit winds all winter.
Shapiro and Atkins would probably be ‘elated’ to bring him back on a 2-year deal. The two have expressed on a number of different occasions how much they like Happ’s attitude and work ethic. When I interviewed Atkins last winter, he had this to say about J.A.:
He’s unbelievably hard-working and focused. He has minimal distractions in his life, in his approach to professional baseball and is in my opinion, one of the more underrated starting pitchers in professional baseball.
The Jays met with Happ’s reps yesterday, and Atkins gushed a bit more:
#BlueJays met with reps for JA Happ today. Earlier in the day, this is what GM Ross Atkins said about the FA lefty: “JA is one of my favourite people in baseball … We’d love to have him back here. I would imagine there would be a great deal of competition for him.”
— Shi Davidi (@ShiDavidi) November 7, 2018
Now, if Happ isn’t interested in coming back to Toronto, would they kick the Eovaldi tires? Or maybe go after a Gio? Or a Pomeranz? Or a Cahill? My bet’s on a brand new Subaru? They’re damn reliable, anywho…all sorts of names are going to get tossed around.
I’m sure that most of you already know what starting pitchers are free agents, but for the sake of doing a thorough job for all you fine readers, I am going to be real professional and copy and paste the list from MLB.com for you here:
Patrick Corbin (29 years old, 6.3 WAR)
Dallas Keuchel (31, 3.6)
J.A. Happ (36, 3.2)
Charlie Morton (35, 3.1)
Lance Lynn (32, 2.9)
CC Sabathia (38, 2.5)
Anibal Sanchez (35, 2.4)
Nathan Eovaldi (29, 2.2)
Gio Gonzalez (33, 2.0)
Hyun-Jin Ryu (32, 2.0)
Trevor Cahill (31, 2.0)
Derek Holland (32, 2.0)
Clay Buchholz (34, 1.9)
Wade Miley (32, 1.5)
Matt Harvey (30, 1.4)
Jeremy Hellickson (32, 1.2)
Garrett Richards (32, 1.0)
Tyson Ross (32, 1.0)
Brett Anderson (31, 0.9)
James Shields (37, 0.8) — White Sox declined $16 million option (Oct. 29, 2018).
Jason Hammel (36, 0.8) — Royals declined $12 million mutual option (Oct. 30, 2018).
Edwin Jackson (35, 0.7)
Adam Wainwright (37, 0.5) — Reached agreement on one-year contract with Cardinals (Oct. 11, 2018).
Marco Estrada (35, 0.5)
Francisco Liriano (35, 0.3)
Doug Fister (35, 0.3)
Bartolo Colon (46, 0.2)
Yovani Gallardo (33, 0.1)
Jaime Garcia (32, 0.0)
Matt Moore (30, 0.0)
Martin Perez (28, -0.2)
Drew Pomeranz (30, -0.3)
Miguel Gonzalez (35, -0.3)
Chris Tillman (31, -0.4)
Ervin Santana (36, -0.5) — Twins declined $14 million option (Oct. 30, 2018).
Nate Karns (31, N/A) — Didn’t appear in the Majors in 2018.
Maybe Atkins could hang this list in his office, toss darts, and hope for the best and go after guys based on a dart system, but that’s probably not an effective approach. And the dart might not land on a pitcher that he thinks will compliment the Jays’ pitching so there’s that, as well.
One thing that is certain is that Marco Estrada is one name on this list that you can cross off with a sharpie. If you didn’t notice, Captain Charlie Montoyo was given Estrada’s number 25, which means Marco is definitely gonzo. And so is Sabathia as the dumb Yankees have inked the ol’ vet to a one-year contract.
Okay, so I’m going to take a sip from the Blur Jays bottle and say that a bit of me actually wonders if the Jays will try and sign Big Sexy Bartolo Colon to a minor-league contract with an invite to Spring Training. If that happened, the 45-year-old pitcher could potentially finish his career with Shapiro, who traded him back in the Cleveland days about a hundred thousand moons ago. I doubt this happens, but that would be some crazy shit folks and pretty fuckin’ fun.
Now, who the hell the front office actually signs or trades for is something not even the maverick Richard Griffin knows, or my crystal ball, which was given to me by great aunt, who got it from Rance Mulliniks’ old Slovenian barber. I wish the damn thing actually worked though. I wish it could tell me if Stroman or Sanchez will be a part of the Jays’ future.
Atkins did say this little juicy-ish bit about the idea of trading Stroman or Sanchez this offseason:
“That’s not a focus by any means. We aren’t sitting around thinking about trading players who have been very successful here and we value greatly. But at the same time, we can’t close off opportunity. If there is one, if something is presented to us that makes some sense, we’ll have to consider it. But it’s not what we’re spending our energy on.”
I think that the only current players that are ‘untouchable’ would be Borucki, Jansen, Gurriel Jr, and Tulowitzki and Martin, but for different reasons, of course. Now, clearly Atkins is going to take calls and listen to any offers because that’s a part of his job. But, I don’t think that there is a GM out there that will present a deal that makes sense right now.
Stroman and Sanchez are the two 2021 free-agents-to-be that the front office are going to have to make some hard decisions on in the future, but not quite yet. Maybe Ken Giles is another. Although if the Jays are ten games back from the wild card this July and Giles has been good, the team will probably trade him. But, it’s definitely important for this front office to consider who they should or shouldn’t trade moving forward because the players they choose not to trade are decisions that are just as important as the players that they choose to trade. Now, only if that damn crystal ball could show me what’s up Atkins’ offseason winter sleeve.