The Toronto Blue Jays are interested in Yovani Gallardo, according to a report from Sportsnet's Ben Nicholson-Smith.
Mark Shapiro -- the Blue Jays president and CEO -- went on Sportsnet's radio station on Wednesday to discuss the possibility of the team signing Gallardo. In the interview, Shapiro said that rotation depth remains a concern for the team and that Gallardo "is the kind of guy that would make us better."
These type of non-committal answers are what we've come to expect from MLB executives. However, in saying this, Shapiro is teetering a more important line very carefully: the R.A. Dickey trade rumors.
Shapiro addresses a concern that a team needs upwards of seven starting pitchers to make it through a season. With the Blue Jays rotation currently consisting of Marcus Stroman, Marco Estrada, J.A. Happ, and Dickey, they may be lacking adequate depth according to Shapiro's rubric. That being said, Jesse Chavez, Drew Hutchison, Aaron Sanchez, and Roberto Osuna may be competing for that fifth spot in the rotation. While that shows some depth, if the Blue Jays do sign Gallardo, it might not be at Dickey's expense.
Gallardo -- who is going into his age-30 season -- is tied to draft pick compensation due to the qualifying offer he was given by his previous team, the Texas Rangers. By FIP, Gallardo was four percent better than the league average pitcher. Last season with the Rangers, Gallardo struck out a career-low 15.3 percent of batters he faced, which likely contributed to his career-high WHIP of 1.42.
Jon Morosi went on the FAN 590 to discuss the possibility of Gallardo to the Blue Jays on Thursday. During the interview, Morosi addressed the fact that the 2017 free agent class -- especially at the starting pitcher position -- is extremely weak. If the Blue Jays would like to address future concerns, then signing Gallardo this off-season might be their only option.
Shapiro directly addressed the fact that the organization's AAA depth was especially depleted. Morosi astutely recognized that is likely a discussion on Norris and Hoffman being traded away last season. Furthermore, Morosi pointed out that with Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista's contracts expiring following the 2016 season, trying to spend free agent money on retaining or replacing them as well as replenishing a starting rotation could be difficult for ownership to approve.
Whether or not Gallardo actually signs with the Blue Jays, Shapiro seems aware that not only does the team need rotation depth, but that Gallardo in particular seems to be a good fit. The Blue Jays would have to forfeit their 26th overall pick in the 2016 MLB draft in order to sign Gallardo. When asked for comment on that, Shapiro said "it's just a premium."