Toronto bolstered their rotation Thursday by adding veteran left-hander Jaime Garcia to their roster. Garcia will be guaranteed $10 million: $8 million in 2018, and a $10 million club option for 2019 with a $2 million dollar buyout.
After a stretch of injuries sidelined him for most of 2013-14, Garcia has bounced back to toss at least 125 innings each of the past three seasons. Last year, Garcia pitched for three teams, spending the first half in Atlanta, making one lone start with Minnesota after a trade, and finishing with the Yankees after yet another trade a week later. Overall, Garcia had a 4.41 ERA and 2.1 fWAR in 157 innings.
The 31-year-old is long past days of mid-rotation production (8.9 fWAR from 2010-2012) but he has settled in as a quality back-end starter. Garcia doesn’t miss many bats (19.5 percent strikeout rate the last three years) and isn’t a control specialist (7.9 percent walk rate) but he excels at generating ground balls. Over the past three years, Garcia’s 57.3 percent ground ball rate ranks sixth among qualified starting pitchers. Those ground ball tendencies will come in handy in the hitter-friendly American League East, namely at Garcia’s new home ballpark, Rogers Centre.
Garcia will join a rotation consisting of Marcus Stroman, J.A. Happ, Aaron Sanchez, and Marco Estrada. This bumps Joe Biagini to a relief or swingman role, which gives the Jays some much-needed rotation depth, something they haven’t had in recent years. FanGraphs projects the unit to finish right in the middle of the pack among MLB rotations, with 11.8 fWAR and a 4.44 ERA.
While the Jays haven’t made flashy moves this offseason, they’ve rather quietly added talent for a cheap price. Randal Grichuk, Curtis Granderson, and Yangervis Solarte were all acquired, beefing up the position player depth, and Garcia’s addition bolsters the pitching side of things. With the Yankees and Red Sox well ahead (talent-wise), the Jays’ best shot may be in the Wild Card race, and they should be able to compete for one of those two spots.