Toronto Blue Jays: Team should upgrade pitching staff for 2021

The Toronto Blue Jays are getting closer to contention every year. Should this offseason be the one where they invest in their pitching staff?

The Toronto Blue Jays have one of the most exciting young cores in Major League Baseball. Bo Bichette, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., and Cavan Biggio can anchor this offense for years to come. Even the older guys on the 2020 roster were serious hitters.

The one thing the Blue Jays are missing, however, is reliable pitching that can compete with the offenses in the AL East.

They took a huge step forward in addressing that issue in 2019, signing Hyun-jin Ryu to a four year, $80 million contract. And they have one of the top pitching prospects in baseball in Nate Pearson penciled into the rotation for 2021.

But that’s not enough. The Blue Jays need a serious upgrade in the rotation, and this is a good year to go out and get it. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, teams are not expected to spend big in free agency. And if Commissioner Rob Manfred has his way, the expanded playoffs will be here to stay long term.

As such, if the Blue Jays are willing to take risks on some free agent pitchers, they can drastically improve their rotation on a dime and get back into the playoff picture.

And if they wanted to make a huge splash, going after Trevor Bauer could launch them from borderline playoff team to legitimate threat.

Of course, Bauer isn’t the only free agent pitcher on the market. In the Blue Jays’ own backyard, Taijuan Walker is a good candidate to return. While he’s not an ace level pitcher, he can provide them with solid depth in the back end. Kevin Gausman is also coming off the best season of his career with the San Francisco Giants. Gausman could be a front-end arm that has experience in the AL East for the Blue Jays.

Additionally, James Paxton is possibly the most distressed asset on the market after essentially missing the 2020 season due to injuries. He’ll likely only be looking for a one year deal, but he has ace potential and could be an anchor on another potential playoff run for Toronto.

Improvements to the starting rotation are the best way for the Toronto Blue Jays to move up their contention window. At some point, they’ll need to start handing extensions out to their young offensive stars, so spending big on the rotation now is a great move. And with the current free agency market situation, they may be able to bring in a litany of arms on affordable contracts.