The Blue Jays have been busy. Just a few hours ago, we read (and passed on) the reports that the Blue Jays had signed free agent pitcher Bud Norris to a minor league contract. And now, apparently, the Blue Jays are about to sign righty Clay Buchholz to a major league deal.
Buchholz, who is well known as a two-time All-Star and World Series champion with the Boston Red Sox, is a “buy-low” candidate for the Blue Jays as he had a strong comeback season in 2018 while also losing more time due to injuries at the end of it. Buchholz, 34, lost almost the entire 2017 season with a partial tear of his right flexor tendon.
Buchholz went to spring training in 2018 with the Kansas City Royals, who released him on May 1 after three minor league outings and ended up signing on with the Arizona Diamondbacks on May 5. With the D-backs, Buchholz had a stellar 2.01 ERA and 1.04 WHIP with 81 strikeouts and 22 walks in 98 1/3 innings. He managed to do that despite having lost about two miles per hour on his fastball from his heyday with the Boston Red Sox earlier this decade, averaging 90.2 mph in 2018 but interestingly, he hasn’t significantly altered his pitch usage.
Buchholz lost the end of his 2018 season to a flexor mass strain in his right arm that cost him much of July and the last half of September.
Jon Heyman of the MLB Network tweeted that Buchholz’s deal would pay about $3 million plus another $3 million in incentives but because of Buchholz’s injury history, a physical is pending before the contract is signed.
If Buchholz is healthy(ish) and under contract for 2019, the Blue Jays add a potentially interesting piece to their starting rotation and, as long as fans can get past the 2013 “cheating” accusations/incident where analyst Dirk Hayhurst called Buchholz out for the shiny substance that was on his forearm (although Buchholz insisted that it was a combination of sunscreen and rosin).
Buchholz would slot in in the #3 spot in the rotation as far as my expected production would go. He’s got years of experience in the AL East, unlike many pitchers who sign with the Blue Jays and while his 2018 numbers may very well be National League-boosted, if he’s even a decent #3 starter, he’s going to be able to allow the Blue Jays to push the young guys down the depth chart.
Again, this deal is dependent on Buchholz passing a physical but if it is signed and sealed, I think that Ryan Borucki is affected most, likely heading either to the bullpen or down to Buffalo and it will push almost all of the Blue Jays’ pitchers a rung down the depth chart.
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