The Blue Jays have announced the signing left-handed starting pitcher Jaime Garcia to a 1-year contract with an option for the 2019 season.
We've signed LHP Jaime García to a 1-year contract with a club option for 2019.
Over 9 MLB seasons, García is 67-55 with a 3.69 ERA. pic.twitter.com/uE1wJkeqXh
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) February 15, 2018
Garcia will likely take the fifth spot in the Blue Jays rotation. Jon Heyman is reporting that the contract guarantees Garcia $8 million dollars in 2018 and comes with a $10 million dollar option ($2 million buyout) for 2019. This is a nice deal for Toronto, as earlier in the day Andrew Cashner, another back of the rotation starter the Blue Jays were supposedly looking at, signed today with Baltimore for two years and $16 million dollars.
Garcia is coming of a season in which he pitched to a 4.41 ERA (4.41 FIP) and 1.41 WHIP in 27 starts with the Twins and Yankees. Garcia posted a 19.2 percent strikeout rate and a 9.5 percent walk rate. While Garcia’s strikeout and walk numbers are not particularly impressive, he is able to keep the ball on the ground at an elite rate – his 54.8 percent groundball rate was fifth amongst all starting pitchers who threw 150 innings last season.
While some may worry about the Blue Jays signing another left-handed pitcher with the new right-handed murderer’s row in New York, Garcia has traditionally shown no real platoon splits. He also does a very nice job limiting home runs, as his 1.03 HR/9 last year would’ve placed 27th in all of baseball, despite finishing the season int he homer haven of Yankee Stadium. For his career, he has been even stingier, allowing only 0.83 home runs per nine innings.
One of the main concerns with Garcia has actually been health. He struggled with shoulder injuries that limited him to under 60 innings in both 2013 and 2014, and then just 129 2/3 in 2015. But he seems to have rebounded, tossing 171 2/3 innings in 2016 and 157 last year across 28 starts. As such, he should be counted on for at least modest health. If not, as the fifth starter, there are better depth options in the minors this year with emergence for Ryan Borucki and the acquisitions of Taylor Guerrieri and Joe Pannone.
The signing likely moves Joe Biagini back to a bullpen/swingman role. In the absence of other options, Biagini had reported to spring training with the inside track on the fifth starters job, although many were concerned after he struggled in the rotation last season. While there were reasons to think Biagini could improve and rumors that some people within the front office wanted to give him the opportunity, the signing of Garcia adds a layer of depth to Toronto’s pitching corps it lacked with Biagini in the rotation.
This gives John Gibbons another weapon to use out of the bullpen and a sixth starter with more big league experience than any of their other previously mentioned internal options. He also provides bullpen cover for the overly taxed trio of Osuna, Tepera, and Barnes.
Finally, the extra option year on the contract provides some nice cover for the Blue Jays with the pending free agencies of Marco Estrada and J.A. Happ. Nobody wants to have to go into free agency with only two viable starters in place.
There isn’t much to dislike about the signing. Garcia should provide solid production suitable for a number four or five starter and the Blue Jays didn’t have to break the bank to get him.
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