SAN DIEGO – Behind the scenes, the starting pitching market is moving quickly in the aftermath of Justin Verlander’s two-year, $86.8 million deal with the Mets, with teams appearing motivated to push for the next tier of starting pitchers at the MLB Winter Meetings.

Case in point: Andrew Heaney, the free agent left-hander who struck out 110 hitters in just 72.2 innings for the Dodgers in 2022, has fielded offers from multiple teams, including the Toronto Blue Jays. The 31-year-old’s market could come to a head in the coming days with more than 10 teams said to have expressed recent interest.

Under those circumstances, there’s no guarantee the Blue Jays get something done, but their interest makes sense at a time when they’re actively exploring the starting pitching market. They were involved on Kyle Gibson until the end, according to a source, but do not appear to be at the forefront of the Chris Bassitt talks at this time.

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The recent successes of Robbie Ray and Steven Matz under pitching coach Pete Walker make the Blue Jays a more appealing destination for pitchers looking to get the most out of their stuff.

Though Heaney’s fastball averages 93 m.p.h., he pairs it with an effective slider to generate an elite chase rate, whiff rate and strikeout rate. He struck out 35.5 per cent of hitters he faced in 2022, well above the MLB average of 22.1 per cent, while walking 6.1 per cent of batters.

Heaney signed a one-year, $8.5 million deal last winter, but MLB Trade Rumors now forecasts a three-year, $42 million contract following his 2022 season. The way the market has gone, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Heaney meet or even exceed that projection. And at this point, it looks as though the Blue Jays will remain involved until the end.

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