As you’ve probably seen, the Blue Jays got their hands on pitcher Yusei Kikuchi. The left-hander, who was somewhat in the Mets’ sights, signed a three-year contract ($36 million in total) to become the club’s fifth starter. He will help Jose Berrios, Kevin Gausman, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Alek Manoah.
Kikuchi was what the doctor ordered and Toronto has loved him for a long time. And with Ross Stripling and Nate Pearson who will be there in case of injury, the Blue Jays have ammunition to go to war in this 162-game year.
So basically, if we take the rotation of the end of the 2021 season, three guys (Hyun-Jin Ryu, Alek Manoah and Jose Berrios) are back and two are gone.
Kevin Gausman vs. Robbie Ray and Yusei Kikuchi vs. Steven Matz? It looks like this.
And if we take for granted that Berrios and Manoah arrived at the Blue Jays in the middle of the season (Manoah was a prospect for the organization), we realize that last year, among the five men currently in place, only Hyun-Jin was an opening day starter.
Last year, Toronto also counted on TJ Zeuch, Steven Matz, Tanner Roark and Ross Stripling.
In 2020? It was still Ryu guiding the rotation and it was even darker.
Guys like Tanner Roark, Chase Anderson, Trent Thornton and Matt Shoemaker were in the starting rotation. It was shortly after the “Blu Flu” days of Scott Boras, Ryu and Kikuchi’s agent.
Remember that in 2020, the club made the playoffs. In 2021? He came close. And in both cases, the majority of home games were not in Toronto.
This year, on paper, Toronto made sure they had a dominant rotation to help them get a good run in the playoffs. And that makes a change.
And if we add Yimi Garcia and Andrew Vasquez, two relievers who took advantage of their autonomy to land in Toronto, we have two minor additions, but which will help the depth of a bullpen which is not dominant, but which does not ain’t rotten either.
Charlie Montoyo will have options.
Now, there remains a major challenge: to add an impact player to the infield who can replace Marcus Semien. Recall that Toronto had said it wanted to replace the production of the stars who left if the players in question did not return.
And it will go through more than a Jonathan Villar.
At the moment, the club is looking at its options, but the money will be there with the Blue Jays.
Why? Because a club that puts $36 million on a #5 pitcher is willing to put money on the table to win.
We will obviously hear big names circulating (if I am the Jays, I call the Guardians for Jose Ramirez) and that’s normal: the club wants reinforcements.
The name of Kyle Schwarber particularly intrigues me, by the way.
The club clearly intends to move to the next level and it is with an attractive salary package that this will be done.
The division duels in 2022 will be crazy.
- The Freddie Freeman dossier has people talking.
- Jorge Soler wants a big contract.
- Interesting detail: the Mets, for the right guy, could exceed the Steve Cohen tax.