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A new team has entered the Yankees’ rearview mirror: the Blue Jays. Now, Toronto isn’t ready to challenge for the division title just yet. However, the club is on a trajectory to do so in the not so distant future. Already loaded with a stellar position player core, the Blue Jays are making a concerted effort to improve its pitching staff this winter. And it’s more than just a few free agent signings that point to a bright future.
We’ve already heard aplenty about guys Toronto’s position player core. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette are going to terrorize opponents for the next decade. But Toronto’s young pitching? Not so much. So, the Jays basically remade its rotation of the last two months. Hyun-Jin Ryu is not only the latest addition, but also one of the top pitchers in all of baseball. It’s the kind of move that can accelerate the start the team’s contention window.
Ryu is the reigning ERA champ and will be in Toronto for the next four years. They’ve signed him through his mid-30s, so there’s sure to be some decline in that run, but it’s a big addition nonetheless. And by adding veterans like Tanner Roark and Chase Anderson, they’ve raised the rotation’s floor. The moves have also given the team more time to develop young pitching internally. Namely, Nate Pearson, a consensus top-100 prospect who reached Triple-A this year.
This winter’s spending is a reminder that Blue Jays aren’t some small market franchise, by the way. If this developing core and revamped pitching staff mesh well in the coming years, the team shouldn’t have a problem keeping the gang together. Rogers Communications, a massive telecom company that generated $1.7 billion of free cash flow in 2018, owns the team. That makes the Blue Jays a rounding error. Now, Rogers’ willingness to spend on the team has been suspect. They’re not exactly in the baseball business, but perhaps this winter’s behavior is a sign of change. In any event, Toronto is capable of playing on the same financial playing field as the Yankees.
The Blue Jays may not threaten the Yankees for the division title in 2020, but they’re going to be a pest. And it doesn’t look like they’re going anywhere for the early portion of the next decade. They still have a ways to go to catch the Yankees, but it’s not hard to envision Toronto fighting for division titles in the not too distant future.