The Toronto Blue Jays' plans to improve their starting rotation this winter are well underway. The club is setting up appointments with several of the market's top names, including Matt Garza, Ervin Santana and Ubaldo Jimenez, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.
Toronto's need for rotation help is widely known. The club came into 2013 with a quality pitching staff on paper by adding Mark Buehrle, R.A. Dickey and Josh Johnson to the mix, but finished the season with the second-worst ERA (4.81) in the league. Dickey and Buerhle will return to the rotation in 2014, but beyond that the Jays' staff is mostly up in the air.
The Blue Jays already have $120 million locked up in guaranteed payroll for 2014 -- just $7 million less than last year's record figure -- so how much money they're really willing to throw at free-agent pitchers is unknown. Santana is reportedly seeking a $100 million contract, so any endeavor into that market isn't going to be cheap. There's been speculation, per Heyman, that Toronto could move Jose Bautista or Edwin Encarnacion this winter, which would certainly free up some money, but there's nothing concrete there as of yet.
Though the club's focus is primarily on pitching, Alex Anthopolous and company do not plan on ignoring their problems elsewhere on the diamond, namely at the keystone and behind the plate. The club is scoping out the market for a second basemen, according to Heyman, but won't put down the money likely required to sign the biggest name available, Robinson Cano.