The Blue Jays have made their first big acquisition of the offseason. They signed starting pitcher Kevin Gausman to a 5 year, $110 million contract on Sunday. Last season, he posted a 14-6 record with the Giants, a 2.81 ERA and 227 strikeouts in 192 innings pitched. He was the ace of a great San Francisco team that made it to the NLDS. He was an NL all-star and finished 6th in CY Young voting.
The 30-year old pitcher has been a consistent starter for the majority of his 9-year career. However, 2021 was a career year, and some believe he played above his normal level, and may be overpaid. With a great pitching coach like Pete Walker though, I would expect Gausman to continue where he left off last season, as one of the best starters in the majors.
Gausman is now locked in at the top of the Blue Jays rotation, along with Alek Manoah and Jose Berrios. The Jays have five years or more of control with all three of these pitchers, giving them a very formidable core moving forward.
Berrios’ 7 year, $131 million extension earlier this offseason was a mark of intent, to ensure their best young starter was here to stay. Now, the Gausman signing is the mark of a contender. The team is not afraid to go big game hunting to help the young core win. Regardless of who they get the rest of the offseason, expect the Blue Jays to remain very aggressive.
Their ace from this past season, Robbie Ray, has left for Seattle. After this signing, it seemed unlikely he would remain with the team. His contract was always going to be a big one. The focus for this team this offseason is pitching and the fanbase and clubhouse loved Ray last season, as he won the AL CY Young. It is tough to see him go.
The bottom of the rotation is still a question mark, with guys like Ryu, Stripling, Thornton and Pearson all as potential options. Ryu will very likely be a starter again, at least for this year, just further down the rotation than the club hoped when he was first signed. The Jays have a lot of flexibility with their pitching, especially if they bring in another different starting option.
There is a lot of work still to be done this offseason for Toronto. Some very important decisions will need to be made in terms of the starters, bullpen, infield starters and depth outfielders. However, the Gausman signing is a great start. If he keeps up his level of play, he is an absolute steal at around $22 million per season.