Last week’s signing of Freddy Galvis to a one-year contract with a club option for the 2020 season seems likely to be the final move of note that the Jays will make on the position-player side of the equation this offseason. From this point forth, as general manager Ross Atkins explained to Shi Davidi of Sportsnet, the team’s focus will be on bringing some additional arms into the fold — with both Major League and minor league additions possible.
“I think we can still add on the pitching side, on the roster, non-roster,” Atkins stated. “…The bulk of our focus, almost all of it, will be on acquiring pitching at this point.”
The Blue Jays already added some pitching options this season, signing Matt Shoemaker to a one-year contract, acquiring veteran lefty Clayton Richard, landing young righty Trent Thornton (from Houston in exchange for Aledmys Diaz) and selecting righty Elvis Luciano in the Rule 5 Draft (though the 19-year-old will be difficult to roster all season). That said, there’s flexibility for Toronto to add either in the rotation or the bullpen, and Atkins suggested that the team could look to add in either area.
Certainly, the Jays don’t seem likely to splurge on a top-end free agent like Dallas Keuchel or Craig Kimbrel. Both players would are still seeking hefty multi-year contracts, and, after rejecting a qualifying offer, each would cost the Blue Jays their second-highest draft pick and $500K worth of international signing funds on the 2019-20 market. The Jays, meanwhile, have been making smaller-scale moves in what increasingly looks like a transitional season.
However, as can be seen in MLBTR’s 2018-19 Free Agent Tracker, both the starting pitching and relief markets still have several options from which the Jays can choose. Atkins and his staff waited out the market last winter and found some value in late signings of Tyler Clippard and John Axford (who wants to return to the Blue Jays), though a higher-profile addition of Jaime Garcia in mid-February did not yield dividends. The past two weeks have already produced a slew of one-year deals for both starters and relievers alike. That trend will continue, as the supply of available arms looks to outweigh the number of jobs among the limited number of teams that are making an effort to improve.