Who's coming, who's going in Toronto rotation?

Shoemaker, Richard are new faces, but Stroman, Sanchez could be on the move

February 12th, 2019

TORONTO -- The Blue Jays have added a couple of new faces to their starting rotation, but so far they have stopped short of a complete overhaul. That's still likely to change, if not now, then later this summer.

• Around the Horn: Infield | Outfield | Catchers

Toronto was open to trades involving its top starting pitchers, and that will continue into the 2019 season. So far a deal has yet to materialize, but all it takes is one call for that to change, and the Blue Jays are known to be a willing seller.

As MLB.com continues its annual Around the Horn series, it's time to take a closer look at the Blue Jays' starting rotation. It looks different now than it did a few months ago, and it probably won't be long before the same thing will be said again, because the changes are far from over:


Stroman continuously gets mentioned as a trade candidate and it's easy to see why. He has just two years of contractual control remaining, and the Blue Jays are in the midst of a rebuild. Under normal circumstances, this would have been the perfect offseason to work out a trade, but Toronto was working under less-than-ideal circumstances. Stroman's value isn't exactly at an all-time high after he was plagued by shoulder and blister issues throughout 2018, leading to a 5.54 ERA in only 102 1/3 innings.

Prior to 2018, Stroman tossed at least 200 innings in back-to-back seasons; given that track record, the Blue Jays want a trade return equal to that of a frontline starter. Differing opinions on value is why there has been no deal, but expect these rumors to stick around as a midseason deal remains a strong possibility.


Sanchez would have been considered another trade candidate, but his stock has been trending in the wrong direction for longer than Stroman's. The 26-year-old has been limited to 141 innings combined over the past two years because of finger and blister issues, stalling his career after a breakout 2016 season. Sanchez possesses as much upside as anyone in baseball, but with just two years of control remaining, he's no longer a prospect. The Blue Jays need him to bounce back to increase his value, and Sanchez needs to stay healthy to get his career back on track.


Borucki's rookie season could not have gone much better. He joined the Blue Jays in late June and posted a quality start in six of his first seven appearances. The 24-year-old was Toronto's most reliable starter down the stretch and his strong second half means he will arrive this spring with a guaranteed job. Expectations should be tempered because Borucki is bound to face some adversity at some point, and there wasn't much of that to be found in 2018, but he is undeniably a cornerstone of the future.


The Blue Jays think they found a bargain this winter by signing the non-tendered Shoemaker to a one-year contract worth $3.5 million. The low-risk deal also comes with a second year of control because Shoemaker is still eligible for arbitration, and while the 32-year-old can be used out of the 'pen, he's currently penciled in as Toronto's No. 4 starter.

The biggest issue with Shoemaker has been health -- he's been plagued by right forearm issues each of the past two years. Shoemaker's last healthy season was in 2016, when he posted a 3.88 ERA in 27 starts for the Angels. That's the type of performance the Blue Jays are hoping for this year.


Toronto is on the hook for only $1.5 million of Richard's $3 million contract for 2019, with San Diego picking up the other half. That means there was no real downside to December's trade, which sent fringe prospect Conor Panas to the Padres, but there's also a questionable lack of upside as well. Richard is coming off a season in which he posted a 5.33 ERA for the Padres; the year before that wasn't much better, with a 4.79 ERA and an NL-high 15 losses. The 35-year-old needs to keep the ball on the ground to have any success, but his overall experience makes him the early favorite for the final spot in the rotation.


If there's one pitcher in Toronto's system who is going to come into Spring Training and win a job outright, it's probably this guy. Early projections have Reid-Foley starting the year at Triple-A Buffalo, but a strong showing this spring would put pressure on Richard.

Reid-Foley had some success in his limited run with the Blue Jays last season, but it was also clear that he needs better fastball command to be considered a long-term option. There's no denying the talent, but Reid-Foley still has some developing left to do and he's not nearly as polished as Borucki at the moment.

Predicting the Opening Day roster

The rest

• RHP made 24 starts for the Blue Jays in 2018, but he posted an ERA well over five and he throws just two pitches. It's hard to envision him as anything more than an emergency option this season.

• RHP , who was acquired from Houston in an offseason deal for , will compete for a starting job after posting a 4.42 ERA for Triple-A Fresno last year.

• RHP Jacob Waguespack was added to the 40-man roster to avoid the Rule 5 Draft. He may end up as a long reliever.

• RHP is coming off Tommy John surgery and will be one to watch this season. It seems unlikely he will break camp with the team, but Merryweather should get a long look in the near future as the only return on the now-departed .