The Blue Jays are in agreement with veteran right-hander Matt Shoemaker on a one-year, $3.5 million deal, per a Friday morning report from Yahoo! Sports’ Jeff Passan. Since Shoemaker was non-tendered by the Angels in November and still has a year of arbitration eligibility remaining, he’ll remain under Toronto’s control next offseason as well:
Right-hander Matt Shoemaker and the Toronto Blue Jays are in agreement on a one-year major league deal, sources tell Yahoo Sports.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 28, 2018
Matt Shoemaker's deal with the Toronto Blue Jays has a $3.5 million guarantee and can add another $1 million in performance bonuses, per source. While it's a one-year deal, the Blue Jays control Shoemaker for the 2020 season as well because he'll be just shy of six service years.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 28, 2018
Shoemaker, 32, has at times been extremely effective when he’s been on the mound, most notably when he finished second in AL Rookie of the Year voting in 2014 while posting a 3.04 ERA and 1.07 WHIP for the Angels. But he’s had a ton of trouble staying healthy; through six seasons, the most games he’s pitched in is 27 (he did so in both 2014 and 2017). He suffered a season-ending skull fracture after being hit in the head by a 105-MPH line drive in September of 2016, and forearm issues limited him to 14 starts in 2017 and seven in 2018. With those facts in mind, it seems clear that Toronto is taking a gamble here, but for such an affordable salary, it’s a sensible one for a guy who has a solid 3.93 career ERA and a 1.20 WHIP.
Shoemaker is a veteran addition to a rotation that was one of baseball’s best just a couple years ago but is now very young and inexperienced. Beyond Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez, who is as or more injury-prone than Shoemaker, Toronto’s returning rotation candidates will include highly-regarded young arms such as Ryan Borucki, Sean Reid-Foley, Thomas Pannone, Trent Thornton, and David Paulino, as well as journeyman Sam Gaviglio. If Stroman is dealt before the season, as has been rumored in recent weeks, the need for Shoemaker’s veteran presence could be even more pronounced.