When perusing through the Toronto Blue Jays roster, it’s clear that the starting rotation is the weakest area of the team.
With the addition of Hyun-Jin Ryu during the 2020 off-season, things were looking up for the 2020 Blue Jays. With a healthy Matt Shoemaker, a healthy Ryan Borucki, a ready Tanner Roark, a young and ready Nate Pearson, and an ace in Ryu, the Jays were supposed to be solid in the starting rotation area throughout the season. Unfortunately, things did not go as expected due to injuries to most of the starting pitchers. By the 2020 trade deadline, the Blue Jays traded for quite a few solid starters in hopes of making the playoffs, including Robby Ray and Taijuan Walker, all of whom had contracts expiring by the end of the season.
Looking to the upcoming season, the Blue Jays starting rotation is still under construction. According to several reports, addressing the rotation is the next step Shapiro, Atkins and crew, hope to complete. It is unclear whether they are looking into trading for a bonafide starter, or splashing on a big-name (or even “middle-of-the-pack”) free agent pitcher. No matter the case, I’m certain the front office is doing everything imaginable to match the starting rotation with the seemingly glowing starting lineup.
Even though there is under a month to go until spring training, there are still dozens of free agent starting pitchers who have yet to sign with a major league club. While some may be on the downwards track, there are many pitchers that would make the Blue Jays a nightmare to face on a daily basis.
Taijuan Walker — RHP
2020 Stats: 4–3, 2.70 ERA, 50 SO, 53.1 IP
If you’ve been on my twitter profile recently, it should not surprise you that Taijuan Walker is the first mention on this list. In my opinion, Walker should be a top priority for the Jays to re-sign. He proved himself during his stint in Toronto, pitching very well, very consistently, and ending up with an ERA under 1.4 during the six appearances he made for the Jays. Not only was his pitching stellar, but he also made a great teammate for the young Jays on the roster. He had a fiery passion, and pitched to win each and every game. Out of all of the pitchers I have featured in this post, I will be the most disappointed if the front office fail to sign Walker.
Jake Odorizzi — RHP
2020 Stats: 0–1, 6.59 ERA, 12 SO, 13.2 IP
After an injury riddled and unlucky season, Jake Odorizzi would be the perfect pitcher to help the Jays boost the back-end of their starting rotation. His stats have been quite consistent over the past several seasons, and he is a true eatings inner. Toronto’s 2020 starting rotation was not great at pitching deep into games, so having somebody like Odorizzi could come in handy in order to give the bullpen a break. Odorizzi is considered a top free agent, especially in the starting pitching market, and if the Jays are planning on playing deep into the playoffs, he should be near the top of the Blue Jays wishlist.
James Paxton — LHP
2020 Stats: 1–1, 6.64 ERA, 26 SO, 20.1 IP
In addition to Walker, I would be elated to see James Paxton pitch for the Toronto Blue Jays during the upcoming season. I always enjoy watching Canadian athletes play for Canadian teams, and not only would Paxton be one of the only Canadians on the team, but he would also play an important role in the starting rotation. Similarly to Odorizzi, Paxton had an injury-plagued 2020 season. By coming to Toronto, Paxton could not only redeem himself and prove that he can once again be a top pitcher in baseball, but also help his hometown team compete deep into the playoffs.
Masahiro Tanaka — RHP
2020 Stats: 3–3, 3.56 ERA, 44 SO, 48.0 IP
Out of all of the pitchers I mentioned in this post, I believe that Masahiro Tanaka signing with the Toronto Blue Jays is the least likely to happen. Earlier in the offseason, it was reported that Tanaka preferred to return back to pitching in Japan if he could not agree to a contract with his New York Yankees. However, rumours have been going around about Tanaka looking into other options, including pitching for the Blue Jays. Last season, Tanaka was a key-pitcher in the Yankees starting rotation, and played well in almost every start he made. Adding him to the Toronto Blue Jays rotation would be a no-brainer, especially because he has had years of experience pitching under-pressure in the American League East.