Even after locking up righty Marco Estrada to a one-year extension, the Blue Jays are planning to pursue starters over the offseason, GM Ross Atkins tells Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca (via Twitter). Toronto aims to line up eight or nine hurlers capable of taking the ball in the majors, Atkins says.
If it wasn’t clear already that the Jays won’t be entering a rebuilding phase, the move yesterday to re-up Estrada for $13MM seemingly decides the matter. Toronto already has about $90MM committed after that contract hit the books, and will zoom quickly past $100MM as it settles out some significant arbitration cases — including Josh Donaldson, Marcus Stroman, Kevin Pillar, and Roberto Osuna.
Given the array of commitments, it makes sense that the Jays won’t stop with the return of Estrada. Four rotation jobs are locked up already, presuming health, with Estrada re-joining Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez, and J.A. Happ. Beyond that, though, there are some questions.
Joe Biagini failed to run with his rotation opportunity this year but remains an option. Toronto has received good innings of from summer acquisition Tom Koehler in a relief role, but he’d be a risky tender given his $5.75MM salary this year and struggles from the Marlins’ rotation. Brett Anderson has had some quality outings down the stretch, though he’ll be a free agent (and was bombed tonight). As Steve Adams noted in discussing the Sanchez signing, youngster Ryan Borucki has flown up the system this year, though it might be optimistic to expect him to take a job out of camp.
It’ll be interesting to see what kind of hurler the Jays end up pursuing. The club could compete the job between in-house options and some non-guaranteed or cheaper veterans. Alternatively, it might promise the fifth slot as a means of drawing in a preferred player. If there’s more willingness to spend, perhaps Toronto could go somewhat bigger for a mid-range starter, as it did in its most recent contracts with Estrada and Happ.