Even as the list of free agent pitchers shrinks, the Jays are still unwilling to pony up the extra years and cash it would take to sign someone like Santana. After the team's pitching staff struggled mightily in 2013 (finishing with the sixth-worst ERA in the AL at 4.26), Toronto has yet to upgrade its rotation this winter. One AL executive told Stark that Santana would have to "fall in their lap" for the Jays to ultimately sign the right-hander.
Many observers expected the Jays to add to their pitching staff following a dreadful 2013 campaign that saw the club's lack of rotation depth exposed when starters like Josh Johnson and Brandon Morrow succumbed to injury.
Instead of adding a veteran arm, the Jays are planning on having one of their young, up-and-coming pitchers fill the last remaining hole in their rotation. The team has R.A. Dickey, Morrow, Mark Buehrle, and J.A. Happ penciled into the first four spots of the rotation, with youngsters Drew Hutchison and Kyle Drabek ready to vie for the fifth role. Both Hutchison and Drabek are finally healthy after undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2012.
"We'd love to add a starter to maintain that depth," Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos told Stark. "But we're comfortable with what we have."
Along with Hutchison and Drabek, the Jays also have top prospect Marcus Stroman on the way, with the 22-year-old likely to make his big league debut in 2014 after reaching Double-A last season. Toronto also has Esmil Rogers and Todd Redmond, two starters who filled in at times last year, still under contract.
But even if they expect better depth in the season ahead, it is fair to wonder how the Jays expect to compete in the AL East without upgrading their current rotation. Dickey posted a 4.21 ERA after moving from the NL to the AL East in 2013, while Mark Buehrle also struggled after moving to the AL, finishing with a 4.15 ERA. Morrow has thrown more than 150 innings in a single season just once back in 2011.
If the Jays don't sign Santana, the 31-year-old still has a number of suitors. The Mariners, Indians, Royals, and even Yankees have been linked with the right-hander in the past week, although nothing appears imminent.
What we do know, at this point, is that the Blue Jays probably won't be inking Santana to a deal this offseason.