Nov. 28: MLB Network’s Jon Morosi tweets that the Giants “have a good chance to retain Kevin Gausman, based on the current tenor of negotiations.”
Nov. 27: Kevin Gausman appears to be close to picking his new team, as MLB Network’s Jon Morosi (Twitter links) reports that the free agent right-hander will likely make his decision within the next two or three days. The Blue Jays are one of the finalists for Gausman’s services, though it isn’t known how many other teams are also still in the running. The Jays, Giants, Angels, Red Sox, Mets, and Mariners have all been linked to Gausman’s market at various points this winter.
There is enough interest in Gausman that “a five-year deal is increasingly likely,” Morosi writes. This is actually less than the six-year, $138MM deal that MLBTR projected for Gausman (who ranked fifth on our list of the offseason’s top 50 free agents), but it is still a healthy commitment for a pitcher entering his age-31 season. Beyond Gausman’s strong numbers over the last two seasons, he can also be signed without any draft pick compensation required, making him an even more attractive candidate for teams.
For example, the Angels have already surrendered one draft pick in order to sign the qualifying offer-rejecting Noah Syndergaard. Therefore, Gausman is probably a more enticing addition for the Angels than Robbie Ray, who is the last remaining free agent starter who rejected a QO (though the Angels reportedly had some interest in Ray earlier in the offseason).
The Blue Jays may have two compensatory picks coming back their way should Ray and Marcus Semien sign elsewhere. That frees the Jays up to perhaps sign another QO free agent since they know they’ll be getting at least one extra pick anyway, or maybe deal a notable prospect if they feel they can replenish their farm system with extra selections in the 2022 draft.
Gausman has long been on Toronto’s radar, as the club had interest in the righty in each of the last two offseasons. Last winter, the Jays reportedly offered Gausman three years and around $40MM before he opted to bet on himself by accepting the Giants’ qualifying offer — a very wise move in hindsight, given what Gausman is now poised to earn this offseason. Should the Jays win the bidding for Gausman, he will immediately bolster a rotation that has already lost Steven Matz to the Cardinals and may also lose Ray. Gausman would join Jose Berrios, Hyun Jin Ryu, and Alek Manoah in the starting five, with other starting options like Nate Pearson, Ross Stripling, or Anthony Kay now battling for the fifth starter’s job.
Assuming he does agree to a deal soon, Gausman will join the long list of major free agent pitchers who have already landed deals before the expiration of the Collective Bargaining Agreement on December 1. Syndergaard, Matz, Justin Verlander, Eduardo Rodriguez, Anthony DeSclafani, and Andrew Heaney have signed, though obviously several other prominent arms (i.e. Ray, Max Scherzer, Marcus Stroman, Carlos Rodon, Jon Gray) are still available.