The Toronto Blue Jays have made a decision on their top impending free agents, issuing qualifying offers to second baseman Marcus Semien and starter Robbie Ray.
Jays are extending the qualifying offer to Marcus Semien— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) November 6, 2021
Jays are extending the $18.4M qualifying offer to Robbie Ray as well, Toronto made some great deals last winter, and now they’d like to hold on to those key players.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) November 6, 2021
Both players now have 10 days to decide whether they will accept the one-year, $18.4 million contracts or explore free agency instead. It seems likely that both opt for the latter option, which will result in a longer-term contract and more money, too.
Semien had a fantastic season with the Jays in 2021, slashing .265/.334/.538 with a whopping 45 home runs, 102 RBI, 6.6 fWAR, a 9.1 percent walk rate, and a 20.2 percent strikeout rate. The All-Star also posted a .368 wOBA and 131 wRC+. Evidently, last offseason’s move from Oakland to Toronto had no negative impact on the production of the 31-year-old, who is clearly one of the best second basemen in all of MLB.
Ray, 30, also had a great year, building on the resurgence that commenced in the back half of the 2020 season after he was traded by the Diamondbacks. Currently a Cy Young candidate, Ray finished 2021 with a 13-7 record, 2.84 ERA, 11.54 K/9 rate, 2.47 BB/9 rate, 90.1 percent LOB rate, and 3.9 fWAR. While he’s not a lock for the Cy Young award, one thing is certain: Ray has the opportunity to fetch big money this winter.
In his report, Heyman noted that the Jays decided not to issue the qualifying offer to Steven Matz, who also rejected a multi-year contract offer recently. The 30-year-old finished 14-7 with a 3.82 ERA and 2.8 fWAR this past season. An extension is always possible, but it seems pretty likely the two sides are heading towards a divorce this winter.
Jays recently made a multiyear offer to Steven Matz. He did not accept it so free agency awaits. Jays ultimately decided not to give Matz the $18.4M qualifying offer.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) November 6, 2021
All in all, the Blue Jays have a very strong core in place already, but bringing back Semien or Ray (or both) would go a long way towards increasing Toronto’s 2022 playoff odds.