Much like last off-season, the Blue Jays are yet again in serious need of starting pitching. One could argue the need is even greater this time around with only three pitchers guaranteed of making the rotation.
Last winter, the Blue Jays signed Jaime Garcia to round-out their rotation. Unfortunately it was a decision that would blow-up in their face as Garcia would go on to pitch to the tune of a 5.93 ERA while with Toronto. Picking and choosing between all the free agent starting pitchers has become quite the risky gamble. These starters don’t come cheap, and it’s difficult to predict which of them will excel and who will falter.
Toronto shouldn’t be criticized too much for signing Garcia however. On paper it looked like a decent acquisition. Had Garcia pitched anywhere near his career averages it would have been considered a good deal. Sadly, Garcia turned out to be a bust, and ended-up only giving the Blue Jays three solid starts.
So what can the Blue Jays do differently this winter in order to avoid another disappointing signing like what happened with Garcia?
With just Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez, and Ryan Borucki, Toronto can hardly afford to screw up the free agent starter they decide to go with. One thing they might want to consider is not waiting so long before signing someone. They waited until the beginning of spring training before signing Garcia, and he looked like he was playing catch-up all season long. Waiting until much of the free agent market has played out before signing a starting pitcher rarely works out. Last year alone look how poorly Yu Darvish, Alex Cobb, Jason Vargas, and Lance Lynn pitched. What those pitchers have in common is they were all signed in February or March for big money and came nowhere close to living up to such lofty contracts.
By being a little more proactive in free agency, the Blue Jays will likely have to spend more. But does it really matter if it means acquiring a pitcher you can actually rely on. I’m not talking about blowing the bank on someone like Dallas Keuchel. But at least consider spending a little more than what it took to sign Garcia in order to get a player like J.A. Happ or Charlie Morton.