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Blue Jays Shopping List for Winter Meetings: Pitching, Pitching and More Pitching

The 2020 edition of the MLB Winter Meetings open today in San Diego, California (even though it’s still 2019). After going 67-95 in 2019, the Toronto Blue Jays will look to shore up their starting rotation and add some arms to the pen in order to improve on their 4th place finish.

Pitching was a serious weakness for the Jays after getting off to a good start thanks to the efforts of players like Matt Shoemaker. Toronto finished the season 21st in ERA (4.79) and fWAR (9.1). Closer Ken Giles, the Jays’ best player in 2019, accounted for 1.8 of these wins. If the Jays are serious about contending in the near future, they will need to acquire some relievers who can hold leads for Giles in addition to multiple reliable starting pitchers who will remain with the team for the next five years or so.

In the run-up to the Winter Meetings, they have made some preliminary roster moves.

With respect to the starting rotation, Shoemaker, who went 3-0 with a 1.57 ERA in five starts for the Jays before suffering a season-ending ACL tear, was tendered a contract for 2020. The right-hander pitched very well before the injury and deserves a shot to bounce back next year.

As for the pen, Derek Law (1-2, 4.90 ERA in 60.2 IP) and Jason Adam (3-0, 2.91 ERA in 21.2 IP) were not tendered contracts. Anthony Bass, who Cubs fans may remember from the 2018 Iowa shuttle, was claimed off waivers from the Seattle Mariners and signed to a one-year deal to avoid arbitration.

What’s next for the Jays? Trading Marcus Stroman to the New York Mets left Toronto without a #1 starter and manager Charlie Montoyo made heavy use of openers. While the team certainly has plenty of room in the payroll to pay a top-tier free agent starter like Gerrit Cole or 2019 World Series MVP Stephen Strasburg, it appears the front office has its sights set on acquiring a pitcher with a lower price tag, such as Hyun-Jin Ryu. However, according to MLB “insider” Jon Heyman, the Jays will be competing with Ryu’s original team, the Los Angeles Dodgers, as well as the Minnesota Twins, who need to upgrade their pitching staff in order to make a deeper playoff run next year.

Given that few free agent athletes choose Toronto as a long-term employer and the team hasn’t indicated any plans to spend freely, look for activity in the trade market involving Toronto over the coming days and for Ryu to re-sign with the Dodgers.

Featured Image: Lester Balajadia / Shutterstock.com

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