TORONTO – The Toronto Blue Jays reached an agreement with right-hander Kevin Gausman on a $110-million, five-year deal according to two industry sources, locking in another front-of-the-rotation starter for an extended period.
Gausman, 30, was pursued aggressively by general manager Ross Atkins last winter and turned down a multi-year deal to accept an $18.9-million qualifying offer from the San Francisco Giants.
By adding Kevin Gausman & Yimi Garcia in the last 24 hours, the #BlueJays have upgraded their pitching in a meaningful way
Still aren't done adding pitching ... and on the pos'n player side talks continue too. As you'd expect, Jays remain in touch on some top free agent bats
— Ben Nicholson-Smith (@bnicholsonsmith) November 29, 2021
But that initial courtship made an impression and the Blue Jays were able to sway him this time around after he followed up a strong 2020 with an all-star 2021 for the NL West champions.
“More than anything the decision came down to comfortability,” Gausman said in an interview during the all-star game in July. “It's hard to want to sign somewhere for multiple years when you don't know what to expect, even more so adding in all the COVID (uncertainty). The fact that they're in Buffalo didn't have anything to do with my decision, but after the fact, you think about those things and it's like, maybe we made the right decision. I love Toronto, it's one of my favorite cities, I've always loved playing there. It has a special place in my heart because I made my debut in Toronto and they made a very competitive offer to me.
“But the one for $18.9 million was just too much to pass up and I was going back to a place where I felt comfortable with all the people that I knew were going to be in place, from the pitching coach to the manager, to all the strength coaches, knowing that they were just going to let me do what I did the year before and had success doing. All of those things factored into it.”
The Blue Jays held meetings with him Sunday and felt their chances of landing him were 50-50. His contract is the second-richest ever handed by the franchise to a pitcher, behind the $131-million, seven-year extension Jose Berrios signed earlier this month.
Put some respect on this mans name! There are some people you play with in your career that are just genuinely amazing human beings. Gaus is one of those guys. The good guys do win and Toronto just got a baller. https://t.co/sl4Lwpu8T2
— Alex Wood (@Awood45) November 29, 2021
Berrios and Gausman form an impressive 1-2 punch at the front of the rotation, with Hyun Jin Ryu, Alek Manoah, Ross Stripling, and Nate Pearson currently in place to fill out the staff.
Another starter is still on the Blue Jays’ wish list and they remain in contact with AL Cy Young Award winner Robbie Ray, although it’s unclear if they want another big-money starter on the books.
They also need an infielder after Marcus Semien reached an agreement on a $175-million, seven-year deal with the Texas Rangers.