Of the Toronto Blue Jays’ free agents, Hyun-jin Ryu (36) is the only one who is considered likely to be re-signed. Realistically, it seems unlikely, but the spark remains.
MLB.com, Toronto’s official website, covered Toronto’s offseason on July 7 and provided projections for six free agents. In addition to Hyun-jin Ryu, the Jays have Matt Chapman, Kevin Kiermaier, Brandon Belt, Josh Hicks, and Whit Merrifield as free agents.굿모닝토토
Keegan Mathieson, who covers Toronto, said: “The chances of reuniting with any of these players are not very high. Chapman is a bargain in a market where outfielders are valued below average. His defense is also excellent, and he’ll make a lot of money. Kiermaier will get a multi-year deal for his performance this year and elite defense, while Hicks and Merrifield will get plenty of interest from other teams.
“There is uncertainty about Alec Manoa’s role next year and beyond. At the very least, keep his name in the back of your mind as Toronto explores options to bolster the fifth spot in the starting rotation,” leaving room for a possible re-signing.
As Toronto general manager Ross Atkins said at his season-ending press conference on May 13, “We’re going to miss Chapman, Belt and Kiermeyer. “We’ll miss Chapman, Belt, and Kearmeyer, but we’ll see opportunities inside and outside to fill those holes,” he said, adding, “Most of our pitching is back except for Ryu. Manoa will be back, and Hyun-jin Ryu could be an option,” he said, citing him as the only player likely to re-sign.
Toronto has its first through fourth starters – Kevin Gausman, Jose Berrios, Chris Bassett and Yusei Kikuchi – under contract through next year. The fifth spot is up in the air. Young Gun Manoa, who was third in the American League (AL) in relievers last year, has plummeted in one year. He was sent down to the minors twice as his command broke down. After his second demotion, he had an unspoken conflict with the club, and Toronto’s confidence in him is not what it used to be.
It would be best if Manoa rebounded next year, but it’s far from certain. A competitive five-man rotation is a must for the team to challenge for a championship. That’s why Atkins has left the door open to re-signing Ryu. However, if Toronto views Ryu as a fifth starter or insurance policy, it’s extremely unlikely he’ll stay.
Ryu has a major league minimum of $10 million per year. That’s a lot of money to be a guaranteed starter. In fact, local media outlets are projecting Ryu’s contract to be between $10 million and $13 million per year. Despite his mid-30s age and injury risk, the upside is greater next year, as he’s on track to return from Tommy John surgery in his second season.
Even if Toronto were to offer him a new contract, it would likely not meet Ryu’s standards. Even with a higher offer, Ryu would have no choice but to leave Toronto if he wants to be guaranteed a full-time starting job. As The Athletic reported on June 6, “Toronto has most of its 2023 starting pitchers returning next year. The one remaining spot could be used for Manoa or another young pitcher. If Ryu is looking for a full-time starting role, Toronto is not the place for him.