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MLB free agency: Blue Jays, Kevin Gausman agree to five-year, $110 million deal

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Free agent right-handed pitcher Kevin Gausman has agreed to sign with the Toronto Blue Jays for five years and $110 million, reports Jeff Passan of ESPN

Gausman, 30, is coming off the best season of his career. He was 14-6 with a 2.81 ERA (145 ERA+), 1.04 WHIP and 227 strikeouts against 49 unintentional walks in 192 innings for the 107-win Giants. He posted 5.2 WAR, earning his first All-Star selection while finishing sixth in NL Cy Young voting and 21st in NL MVP voting. 

Gausman had been pretty inconsistent through much of his nine-year career, showing flashes of his immense upside but also mixing in bad stretches. These last two years in San Francisco, he seems to have hit that next gear. Abandoning the sinker after 2017 and then much more heavily using the splitter these last three seasons would be the biggest changes in his pitch mix. 

Overall, he seems to have tapped into that potential that once made him the fourth overall draft pick out of LSU and saw him ranked as a top-20 prospect in baseball as he was coming up through the Orioles‘ minor-league system a decade ago. He’s a frontline starter at this point and is now being paid like it. 

For the Blue Jays, it seems likely that this means they are parting ways with Cy Young winner Robbie Ray. Gausman would appear to just slide right into Ray’s spot, especially since the Jays signed José Berríos to a seven-year, $131 million extension earlier this offseason. Here’s how things look right now with six possible pitchers for the rotation: 

RHP: José Berríos
RHP: Kevin Gausman
LHP: Hyun-jin Ryu
RHP: Alex Manoah
RHP: Ross Stripling
RHP: Nate Pearson

There’s talent and flexibility in there. The top three pitchers in there have already flashed ace upside. Manoah was overall very good last year as a rookie. Pearson has yet to untap the potential that made him a top-10 prospect in baseball, but he has the ability and is only 25 years old. And Stripling can swing to the bullpen if need be. 

As for the Giants, they’ll have to look elsewhere to fill the void left by Gausman. Logan Webb is back, Anthony DeSclafani has re-signed and there have been reports Alex Wood is coming back. That’s three rotation spots with Sammy Long and Tyler Beede right now possibly holding down the four and five spots. 



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