In a move that the Blue Jays were expected to make, rather than go out and sign a superstar outfielder, like Bryce Harper, they made a sensible, depth signing, adding righty Matt Shoemaker on a one-year contract worth $3.5 million, as reported by Shi Davidi.
Shoemaker, whose beard game immediately takes him to the top of the team’s facial hair leaderboard (and gives Keegan Matheson someone to aspire to), has struggled to stay on the mound for the past two years, throwing just 108 2/3 innings over 21 starts in the past two seasons. Over that span, Shoemaker has a 4.64 ERA but a very solid 1.29 WHIP and he struck out 29 with just six walks in 25 1/3 innings in 2018, coming back in September from surgery.
Shoemaker was non-tendered by the Los Angeles Angels after he was expected to get a $4.3 million salary (as projected by MLB Trade Rumors), allowing him to become a free agent with under five years of MLB service time which gives the Blue Jays another two years of control over the 32-year-old righty.
Steve Adams at MLB Trade Rumors notes that Shoemaker’s splitter was a much more effective pitch for him in 2018, giving the righty some upside and the potential to strike out more batters and return to the level of effectiveness he had as a back-end rotation arm he had in 2014 through 2016 as he posted a 3.80 ERA and 1.19 WHIP, striking out 383 batters over 431 1/3 innings.
While Shoemaker isn’t a particularly “sexy” signing for the Blue Jays, he does offer some upside and, should he stay healthy, will help to push the less-experienced rookies down on the depth chart, giving them more development time in Buffalo. Shoemaker projects to slot in as a #3 or #4 starter behind Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez and possibly Ryan Borucki as the rotation is currently expected to be constructed.
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