BREAKING: Right-hander Kevin Gausman and the Toronto Blue Jays are in agreement on a five-year, $110 million contract, sources familiar with the deal tell ESPN.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) November 29, 2021
Getting a talent like Gausman for $22 million per year is a coup for a team that needed top-tier pitching to compete with the Tampa Bay Rays, Boston Red Sox, and New York Yankees.
In Gausman, Toronto is getting a top pitcher who had a fantastic 2021 season with the San Francisco Giants.
Over 33 starts and 192.0 frames, Gausman had a 2.81 ERA and a 3.00 Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP).
He accumulated 4.8 Wins Above Replacement, or WAR, and struck out a solid 29.3 percent of the hitters he faced.
A Solid Robbie Ray Replacement
Gausman is a solid Robbie Ray replacement, as the left-hander signed with the Seattle Mariners on Monday.
Even without Ray, their rotation is very impressive: Jose Berrios and Gausman are currently vying for the “ace” position, while Hyun-Jin Ryu, Nate Pearson, Alek Manoah, and Ross Stripling complete a rock-solid group.
For depth purposes, the Jays should look for a couple of additional starters, but the Gausman signing may position them to make a deep playoff run.
He could be the missing piece for an up-and-coming franchise with a wide open contention window.
The Blue Jays, in addition to an improved rotation, have one of the best offensive cores in baseball.
They have MVP runner-up Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (.311/.401/.601, 48 home runs in 2021), Bo Bichette, Teoscar Hernandez, Cavan Biggio, Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Randal Grichuk, and George Springer ready to produce runs by the dozen.
The rotation was seen as an area to improve, and Gausman is certainly a quality addition.
A perennial top-prospect with the Baltimore Orioles, his career there was a roller-coaster ride, alternating good seasons with disastrous ones.
He arrived in San Francisco in 2020, and had a solid 3.62 ERA coupled with a career-high 32.2 percent strikeout rate.
He managed to improve his 2020 performance and had the best season of his career with the help of the Giants’ player development staff.
Gausman Should Age Well
Toronto is betting on Gausman aging well, because they will be paying him significant money until he is 36 years old.
Working in his favor is the fact that his control and command are impeccable: he only gave away 2.34 walks per nine innings.
Additionally, he is stingy with home runs, or at least he was in 2021.
He only conceded 0.94 per nine frames.
Gausman dominates hitters with a filthy splitter, widely recognized as one of the best in the league.
No single pitch type from a pitcher got more swinging strikes in 2021 than Kevin Gausman's splitter. 272! 😷 https://t.co/ogg07Gxe5h
— Codify (@CodifyBaseball) November 29, 2021
The pitch should help him age well and dominate opposing batters without the need of an extremely high-effort delivery or top-end speed.
Now, the only weakness one could point out on the Jays’ roster is the bullpen.
The unit cost them more than a few games in 2021, but fortunately for them, there are lots of options available in free agency.
With Gausman and Berrios headlining the rotation, that scary lineup, and a few bullpen additions, the Blue Jays could go all the way in 2022.
They have that kind of ceiling.