The Blue Jays front office certainly hasn’t received the praise they deserve for the free agent signings they made this off-season. Even if Toronto didn’t break the bank this past free agency period, what they did spend was definitely money well spent.
Before I really get into this, some of you might be thinking…what about Clay Buchholz and his 6.57 ERA? Well lets give Buchholz a pass for now. Throughout his 13 years in the big leagues, he’s been notorious for his poor play during the first month of the season. With his career ERA in April (5.12) being one whole earned run higher than any of the other five months of the regular season.
As for the numerous free agent signings who’ve been playing well for the Blue Jays, let’s start with Freddy Galvis who Toronto signed to a 1-year deal for $4-million (including a team option in 2020). Not only has Galvis contributed with his always reliable defense, but he’s also been one of Toronto’s better hitters. Credit to the Blue Jays here for two things. One, having the nerve to release Troy Tulowitzki and what remained of his hefty contract; and two, having the foresight to see that none of their top young infielders were quite ready to become Toronto’s everyday shortstop.
An even more impressive signing than Galvis, was that of Matt Shoemaker. Shoemaker was signed to 1-year contract for $3.5 million, and before he tore his ACL was one of the best starting pitchers out there. When many other teams were going out and overspending on pitchers like Nathan Eovaldi (4 yrs, $68-million), Lance Lynn (3 yrs, $30-million), and Anibal Sanchez (2 yrs, $19-million), the Blue Jays bided their time and got Shoemaker for a bargain.
Lastly there’s the savvy veteran with boundless energy, Eric Sogard. Signed to a minor-league deal, Sogard wasn’t even with the Blue Jays to begin the season. If not for the throwing woes experienced by Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Sogard would likely still be down in Buffalo.
In the midst of a rebuild, Toronto had no unrealistically high expectations heading into the season. Nor did they have much incentive to spend big money in free agency while so many of their top young players remain in the minors. That being said, it’s a bit scary to think where the Blue Jays might be right now had they not gotten things right with the underrated free agents they did end up signing.