The Blue Jays didn’t have to look too deep into their analytics before making their first two moves of the 2020 off-season on Friday afternoon.
Indeed, there was little surprise that the team took a pass on the $9.5-million US option for starter Chase Anderson while gladly scooping up the $1.5-million club option on reliever Rafael Dolis.
Anderson, one of three starting pitchers signed last off-season, struggled to the point that he had basically worked his way out of the rotation by the end of the 60-game campaign. Declining the option for the right hander comes with a $500,000 buyout from the team that will make Anderson a free agent.
Though Dolis struggled at times with his command, he was a savvy pickup last winter after spending four seasons in Japan. The righty earned five saves while posting a 1.50 ERA in his 24 innings of work and worked his way into being a valuable reliever for the playoff-bound Jays.
At his best, Dolis was a late-inning bullpen option for Charlie Montoyo and, with Ken Giles gone to injury/free agency for 2021, the team will be rebuilding the high-leverage structure of the reliever group.
Cutting ties with Anderson comes relatively cheaply given how he never got comfortable with the Jays after the start with his new team was delayed due to an oblique injury. The 33-year-old Texan never found his rhythm, labouring through many of his 33.2 innings of work while posting a 7.22 ERA, well above his career average of 4.06.
As it was a year ago, starting pitching is expected to be an off-season shopping priority for Jays general manager Ross Atkins. Hyun-Jin Ryu will be back at the front of the rotation for year two of his four-year, $80-million deal and it is anticipated that flame-throwing Nate Pearson will settle in to a regular spot.
Tanner Roark, who was signed to two-year $24-million U.S. deal this past off season, will return looking for a bounce back season.
Other Jays starters Matt Shoemaker, Taijuan Walker and Robbie Ray — the latter two acquired at the 2020 trade deadline — became free agents at this week’s conclusion of the World Series