Blue Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi has told teams that starters Josh Towers and Tomo Ohka are available, according to the Toronto Sun. The Jays will pick up some salary, too. The Sun’s Bob Elliott dogs Ricciardi for not giving Jeff Suppan the four year, $42MM he got from Milwaukee. I think Ricciardi made the right decision there – instead of owing Suppan $12.5MM in 2010, he can already get off the hook for Ohka and John Thomson. Suppan wouldn’t have a 2.54 ERA right now had he been pitching in the AL East.
Aside from the 1-2 punch of Halladay and Burnett, the Jays will go young in the rotation. They’ve got nothing to lose with such a strategy, and maybe the kids will be primed to succeed in ’08.
Towers, 30, earns $2.9MM this season. However, he won’t be a free agent until after the 2009 season, by my count. He has pinpoint control and pitches to contact. The approach has worked when he’s managed to keep the hits per nine innings under 11. It’s failed miserably otherwise. Oddly, PECOTA sees Ohka as Towers’ #2 comparable. Check out some other names in his top fifteen comps: John Burkett, Lew Burdette, Early Winn, and Brad Radke. There are certainly scenarios under which Towers has a successful big league career. They probably involve the National League.
Ohka, 31, earns $1.5MM this year with additional incentives for games started. I wrote an extensive profile on him here. Two things to know about Ohka: he’s pitching with a strained rotator cuff, and he’s got a fiery personality (to put it lightly). Since he signed late, many teams are on record having interest in Ohka last winter: the Cardinals, Mariners, Nationals, Red Sox, Diamondbacks, Pirates, and Mets. He was actually trying for a three-year deal.