Toronto Blue Jays off-season target: Tyler Chatwood

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - SEPTEMBER 20: Tyler Chatwood /

Tyler Chatwood is a young starting pitcher, that has shown flashes of brilliance in his career, and may be better than his stat line would suggest.

With the re-signing of Marco Estrada the Toronto Blue Jays 2018 starting rotation has become somewhat clearer, with four strong candidates in Aaron Sanchez, Marcus Stroman, JA Happ and Estrada.

But the problems that sent Toronto’s starting five from being the best in the AL in 2016 to the middle of the pack this season could hamper the team’s chances next year.

The two major problems – a lack of depth and injuries, (most notably to Sanchez).

Here is a breakdown of why Chatwood, the 27 year old, soon to be free-agent, might be a good fit in Toronto.

He is a young free agent 

Much was made of the Blue Jays starting this season as MLB’s oldest roster. Chatwood would bring that median age down, as he will turn 28 in December and is one of of this off-season’s youngest available arms.

The free agent crop this winter will feature stars like Jake Arrieta, Yu Darvish, and Alex Cobb but these top-tier arms will be expensive and will probably involve long term deals.

The Colorado Rockies starter probably won’t demand a huge contract in dollars or length, struggling with an 8-14 record and a 4.65 ERA so far in 2017.

Jays President Mark Shapiro has spoken about the team’s dedication to getting younger.

"“We are relentlessly trying to infuse young talent,” he said in July. “We are taking advantage of every opportunity to acquire that talent short of trading major-league players.“We’re committing a lot of resources, a lot of energy, time, money and people developing that talent most effectively and as quickly as possible without cheating the process.”"

Younger is not always better, but at 28 there is reason to believe that the southern Californian has not yet reached his peak.

With 25-year-old Sanchez, and 26-year-old Stroman leading the way, a Chatwood deal would add another youthful arm into Toronto’s rotation.

The Coors Effect 

Denver’s thin mile-high air makes the home of the Rockies a hitters paradise – and on the flip side a nightmare for pitchers.

A quick look at the righties home and away splits from this season show that he has been significantly better on the road.

IP                ERA                K

HOME (Coors)      69.2                5.94               58

AWAY                      77.1               3.49               62

Chatwood’s splits were even worse in 2016, with a 1.69 ERA away versus 6.12 at Coors.

The Blue Jays will not make any visits to Colorado in 2018, so if they could get the away-version of Chatwood at the back of their rotation, the team would have a solid rotation.

Toronto could use depth for 2018 and beyond 

The Jays had one of the best starting five heading into this season, but when the injuries piled up the team struggled to replace them.

When Happ and Sanchez both hit the DL early in the season, Toronto had to rely on the likes of Mat Latos and Casey Lawrence – which did not go well.

Jays GM Ross Atkins recently spoke on the team’s desire to have greater pitching depth in 2018, saying they need eight or nine MLB-level starters.

At the moment, Joe Biagini seems to be the leader for the fifth spot next year. But the 27 year old, who was tossed into the rotation in May, has struggled in his first year as a MLB starter with 2-11 record and a 5.75 ERA.

Chatwood would give the Jays a strong starting five, while letting Biagini stretch out in Buffalo. Re-signing Brett Anderson would be an option as well but with a 6.04 ERA in six starts with the Jays this season, he would likely be better suited as a depth piece.

Toronto has some prospects that could impact the 2018 rotation, but none of them were knocking down the door this season.

So what would Toronto’s eight or nine armed rotation look like with Chatwood?

MLB: Aaron Sanchez, Marcus Stroman, Marco Estrada, JA Happ, Tyler Chatwood.

Depth: Joe Biagini, Tommy Koehler, Brett Anderson (FA)

Prospects: Sean Reid-Foley, Conner Greene, Ryan Borucki, Chris Rowley, Thomas Pannone

After next season, Happ and Estrada will both become free agents, meaning Toronto will have some big shoes to fill. Having another proven MLB arm, would help make the transition smoother for 2019.

Chatwood has had a tough 2017, being relegated to the bullpen for much of the summer. But since returning to the Rockies rotation he has an ERA of 3.24 in five starts.

This off-season has an array of talented and interesting starting pitching options. If the Blue Jays are dedicated to having the depth that they lacked in 2017, than signing another MLB-level arm seems necessary.

Next: Marco Estrada deal answers one of biggest offseason concerns

The former top-prospect’s numbers this year would make him a respectable number five on a playoff contender, but as he showed in 2016 (12-5, 3.87 ERA) he can be a solid middle of the order arm as well. Eliminate the Denver air from the equation and he may just be the diamond in the rough that Toronto’s rotation needs.