With the Toronto Blue Jays appearing to be out on Masahiro Tanaka, the team is willing to forfeit its second-round draft pick for one of the remaining free agent starting pitchers, reports Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star.
That's good news for Ubaldo Jimenez and Ervin Santana. Both players are still looking for a new team after turning down qualifying offers from their 2013 clubs. The Blue Jays have been linked to both pitchers and a willingness to give up a draft pick shows how serious the team is.
Toronto is looking to bolster a rotation that finished with a 4.81 ERA in 2013, the second-worst mark in all of the major leagues. Part of that was due to injury -- Mark Buehrle and R.A. Dickey were the only two to make over 18 starts as Josh Johnson, J.A. Happ and Brandon Morrow all dealt with various maladies.
However, even when the projected starting staff was healthy, they did not pitch particularly well. Thirteen pitchers made a start for the Blue Jays in 2013 and just one -- Chad Jenkins, who started three games -- had an ERA under 4.15. That, more than anything, led to the team finishing with a disappointing 74-88 record. Morrow, Dickey and Buehrle are expected to lead the starting staff with better performances than they had in 2013. Bringing in Santana or Jimenez could make them that much more formidable. Of course, even if the team didn't want to give up a draft pick it could pursue Bronson Arroyo or Matt Garza.
Typically, a team must give up its highest pick to sign a player who turned down a qualifying offer. The Blue Jays have two first-round picks in the 2014 draft, but both selections are protected.