The Blue Jays have “legitimate interest” in free agent hurler Jake Odorizzi, according to Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca. The Toronto organization has already held a sit-down with his agents regarding that interest (among other matters, no doubt).
Such a connection hardly puts the Blue Jays in the driver’s seat on Odorizzi, but it’s a notable market marker at this early stage. If nothing else, the interest of teams such as this makes it likelier that he’ll decline the qualifying offer he’s presently considering from the Twins.
From the perspective of the Toronto organization, it’s good evidence that the team won’t be limited to sifting through the clearance segment of the market. There’s little doubt, based upon recent public comments from the baseball ops leadership, that value concepts will remain paramount. But that can be found at different price points, and it seems the club is in fact willing to begin opening its wallet — at least to a point.
Odorizzi is durable and won’t reach his 30th birthday until just before the start of the 2020 season. He showed career-best strikeout numbers last year — 10.1 K/9 on a 12.7% swinging-strike rate — while being tasked with a limited but still notable innings load (159 frames over thirty starts). It’s not much of a stretch to imagine Odorizzi serving as a quality piece of the Toronto rotation over the life of a hypothetical deal.
Losing amateur talent resources owing to the qualifying offer represents something of a deterrent, but it obviously shouldn’t and won’t rule out a move for Odorizzi. Former MLBTR scribe Ben Nicholson-Smith recently explored the subject of Toronto pitching targets, in particular. And our own in-house Jays watcher, Mark Polishuk, did so earlier today in the course of his breakdown of the team’s offseason.