One team that has strengthened their starting rotation prior to the start of spring training is the Toronto Blue Jays.
The Jays have been active in talks for just about any free agent still available, which includes James Paxton and Taijuan Walker.
Jon Heyman reported back on January 22nd that the Jays have been doing their research on Paxton, who started just five games last year, going 1-1 with a 6.64 ERA.
Paxton had back surgery in February of last year and suffered a strained flexor tendon in his left forearm during the season, which makes signing him even more complicated.
In the 32-year-old’s last full season with the Yankees back in 2019, Paxton went 15-6 with a 3.82 ERA. He likely could be a third or fourth option in the Jays’ rotation when 2021 kicks off.
Paxton has never made more than 29 starts or thrown more than 160 1/3 innings in a season. Those factors could also be scaring the Jays away from offering him a multi-year deal.
Taijuan Walker is another option for the Jays, a pitcher that probably could demand a multi-year deal as a starter.
Walker is 28, and last season he started 11 games, going 4-3 with a combined 2.70 ERA with the Mariners and Jays.
With Toronto, Walker was very good. He went 2-1 with a 1.37 ERA in six starts for the Jays.
Seattle said after they dealt him that they would like to be in the mix to bring Walker back, but likely he’s out of their price range, opening the door for the Jays if they want to make him an offer.
Last season, Walker averaged 8.4 strikeouts per nine innings and 3.2 walks per nine, solid numbers for a middle-of-the-rotation guy.
While these two could be the best options for the Jays, there are a couple other names to keep an eye on: Matt Shoemaker, Rick Porcello, Mike Fiers and Mike Foltynewicz.