Ross Stripling played two and a half campaigns in Toronto after being acquired from the Dodgers in a 2020 deadline trade. The right-hander had a quality second full season as a Blue Jay, throwing 134 1/3 innings of 3.01 ERA ball over 32 outings (24 starts) last year. It was a well-timed return to his early-career form, as Stripling hit free agency for the first time this offseason.
That set the stage for a two-year, $25MM pact with the Giants — one which allowed him to opt out and retest the market next offseason after collecting half that sum. Stripling tells Shi Davidi of Sportsnet the incumbent Jays were among four teams that remained in the bidding throughout the process and said the club was willing to match the $25MM guarantee. However, he indicated the Giants’ willingness to include the opt-out was a decisive factor in his call to head to San Francisco. “I loved my time in Toronto and they were in the mix to the very end,” he told Davidi. “Essentially what it came down to was the Giants offered me an opt-out after the first year and the Blue Jays wouldn’t. That made it a no-brainer, really. … Once (the opt-out) was on the board, it was like, man, you can’t walk away from that. It’s as simple as that.”
The 33-year-old Stripling pointed to the three-year, $63MM deal which Toronto gave Chris Bassitt headed into his age-34 season as an example of the kind of earning power he could have next winter if he pitches well in San Francisco. Stripling began last year in a swing role after struggling between 2020-21. Replicating last season’s production over a full rotation workload could position him as one of the more intruding mid-rotation options in next winter’s class.
In other Toronto news:
- Manager John Schneider discussed the team’s catching duo, telling reporters the club isn’t planning to utilize the likes of Danny Jansen and Alejandro Kirk at designated hitter as often as they did last season (link via Keegan Matheson of MLB.com). While Jansen was only penciled into the DH spot three times, Kirk was in the lineup for 50 such contests. Curtailing that workload isn’t too surprising considering the Jays signed Brandon Belt away from San Francisco to work as the primary DH. Belt’s 2022 season was cut short by a knee procedure but Toronto nevertheless rolled the dice on a $9.3MM free agent deal. With Vladimir Guerrero Jr. locked in at first base, Belt is likely to log the vast majority of his work at the bat-only position. That’d keep Kirk and Jansen behind the dish, with Schneider estimating there’ll be a “pretty even split” at the position. Matheson notes that Kirk figures to be behind the dish for Alek Manoah’s starts. An injury to Belt could change the calculus but the current plan seems to be for the Jays to use their backstops a little less often to keep them fresher. Toronto’s enviable depth at the position allowed them to deal top prospect Gabriel Moreno to Arizona to add Daulton Varsho to the outfield.
- Moreno’s departure vaulted left-hander Ricky Tiedemann to the top of the Jays’ farm rankings at Baseball America. The 6’4″ hurler had a breakout showing in his first fill professional season, reaching Double-A at age 20. Now one of the top pitching prospects in the sport, Tiedemann has been in MLB camp as a non-roster invitee. The youngster recently experienced a bit of soreness in his throwing shoulder, Schneider told reporters (including Hazel Mae). It doesn’t seem the club is particularly concerned, as the manager indicated Tiedemann could throw a side session on Wednesday after being shut down for a few days. The former third-round pick isn’t a candidate to break camp with the big league club; he figures to start the season at Double-A New Hampshire if healthy.