Free agent left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu “is emerging as one of the Blue Jays’ prime targets” in the team’s wide-ranging search for pitching, Sportsnet.ca’s Shi Davidi writes. With other major pitchers like Stephen Strasburg and Zack Wheeler already off the board, however, the Jays will face a lot of competition to land Ryu, particularly from teams that come up short on signing Gerrit Cole or Madison Bumgarner. Should the Dodgers fail to sign Cole, Davidi notes, Los Angeles would seem like a prime candidate to pursue re-signing a known quantity in Ryu — indeed, we’ve already heard reports that the Dodgers have Ryu in their sights.
“Right now, the Blue Jays seem determined to not block themselves out of a possible run at Ryu by doing something else,” Davidi writes in a separate piece. Aside from the acquisition of Chase Anderson from the Brewers, however, the Jays haven’t done much to upgrade a rotation that was the team’s chief offseason priority. It could be that the Jays’ deliberate methods of pursuing and evaluating every possible arm on the market are leaving them behind other teams who make a more direct push for a specific pitcher at the top of their list. In the view of one agent, talks with the Blue Jays “are 90 per cent due diligence that doesn’t go anywhere.”
To this end, Davidi wonders if the Jays are really willing to spend “outside their comfort zone” to sign Ryu if he is their top choice, since if not, missing out on Ryu could also in Toronto missing out on several other pitchers who could sign elsewhere in the interim. For instance, Davidi notes that “one path the Blue Jays are particularly keen on” would see Ryu and Tanner Roark both sign with the Jays, after the Dodgers leave the Ryu sweepstakes due to a Cole signing. If this is the case, I’d argue there’s no reason the Jays couldn’t go out of their way to sign Roark now, as he wouldn’t require nearly the price tag of the top pitchers on the free agent market. (MLBTR projected Roark for a two-year, $18MM deal, and in fact predicted he’d end up signing with the Jays.) Toronto is nowhere near any kind of payroll crunch, given the team’s lack of financial commitments both in 2020 and in future seasons.
That said, the Blue Jays have done more than just talk, as the club made multiple contract offers to Kyle Gibson, as manager Charlie Montoyo told MLB.com’s Keegan Matheson and other reporters. The right-hander ended up going to the Rangers on a three-year, $28MM deal. “You hate to lose guys like Gibson. I was there when we made the offers and they were pretty good offers, just somebody else made a better offer,” Montoyo said.
Kevin Gausman is another free agent hurler who doesn’t appear to be coming to Toronto. Davidi reports that the Jays had interest in the recently non-tendered righty, but Gausman is likely going to sign elsewhere this week.