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Reported pitching targets sum up approach to 2019

Even though the Toronto Blue Jays are now focused on rebuilding for the future, they still want to field a competitive team next season.

There has been all sorts of speculation relating to who is next set to leave the Toronto Blue Jays. The likes of Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez, Justin Smoak and Russell Martin have all been speculated to follow Troy Tulowitzki out of the exit day.

This all points towards the reality the Blue Jays are now rebuilding. However, they would still like to field a reasonably competitive team in 2019.

In this respect, consider some of the names the team has been linked to. As per a report from Jon Morosi of MLB Network, the Jays have recently been reported to be interested in Mike Fiers, Trevor Cahill and Kendall Graveman, who all pitched with the Oakland Athletics this past season.

The fact the trio are pitchers is important, as it alludes to the possibility of Stroman and Sanchez being traded. If either or both of the Jays duo leave, the team would still like to have a competent rotation, which is where Fiers, Cahill and Gravemen theoretically come in.

Starting with Fiers, he actually set a personal high with 12 wins (compared to eight losses) in 2018, while equaling his previous high of 30 starts. His innings pitched (172.0), ERA (3.56) and WHIP (1.180) were all second-best in their respective categories for his Major League career.

In fact, the 33-year-old’s overall statistics would have made him the top pitcher in the Blue Jays’ rotation this past season. However, as decent as his productivity was, this also speaks volumes about how average the Jays’ starting pitchers were.

In any event, Fiers’ age tells you that he is just a short-term solution to keep things ticking along until Toronto is next in a position to contend again. He is certainly not one for the future.

Turning to Cahill, he had a 7-4 record in 20 starts during 2018 while recording a 3.76 ERA and 1.191 WHIP, which was the second-best of his 10-year career. This becomes more impressive, when considering he missed time with an achilles injury.

It’s stating the obvious to say this is not the same player who was voted to the All-Star Game in 2010. And yet, Cahill is arguably the pitcher who makes the most sense out of the three, to help the Blue Jays through their transitional period.

For what it’s worth, assuming the Blue Jays are actually interested in the unrestricted free agent, they will face a lot of competition. According to Jon Heyman of MLB Network, he has multi-year offers on the table from several teams.

Finally, the reported links to Graveman actually makes the least sense if the Jays are committed to still being reasonably competitive in 2019. Despite being the opening day starter for the Athletics, he had the worst year of his Major League career, and that was before he had season-ending Tommy John Surgery in July.

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In this respect, the 27-year-old will miss a significant part of next season. In fact, there is some speculation he will miss the entire year; unsurprisingly, the Athletics non-tendered him (as they did with Fiers).

In one respect, you can at least understand why the Jays would consider Gravemen, due to familiarity after drafting him in 2013. Regardless, they would do well to avoid him altogether.

Overall, it remains to be seen which of the reported targets the Blue Jays actively pursue and actually sign/trade for. In any event, it all alludes to what the team’s mindset will be for the next two/three years.

Next: Is Kevin Pillar headed to the San Francisco Giants?

What’s your position on the Toronto Blue Jays’ approach moving forward? Are you on board with the rebuild? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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