MLB Free Agents 2013: Brandon McCarthy Could Help Put the Blue Jays over the Top

Jon ReidCorrespondent IINovember 20, 2012

OAKLAND, CA - SEPTEMBER 05:  Brandon McCarthy #32 of the Oakland Athletics pitches against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Coliseum on September 5, 2012 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The blockbuster trade. The signing of Melky Cabrera. The announcement that former skipper John Gibbons was returning to manage the Toronto Blue Jays once again (anyone else excited about pulling out those old pullover rain jackets?).

Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos has wasted no time in crossing items off his offseason shopping list.

He shouldn't stop just yet though.

Right now, the fifth spot in the Blue Jays rotation is a major question mark.

Who knows if Dustin McGowan will ever come back? Drew Hutchison had Tommy John this past season and J.A. Happ hasn't had much success since his rookie campaign in Philadelphia.

Enter Brandon McCarthy.

The 29-year-old California native has just come off two incredibly successful seasons with the Oakland Athletics and is currently a free agent.

While he will spend much of the offseason recuperating from an injury he suffered in September, when he took a line drive to the head, McCarthy has recently been cleared by doctors to resume baseball activities.

For the Blue Jays, McCarthy would be a perfect fit in the starting rotation.

McCarthy's last two seasons have seen him post ERAs of 3.32 and 3.24 respectively.

Prior to 2011, he had never thrown for more than 101.2 IP, yet he eclipsed that mark in both 2011 and 2012, despite being injured for the final month or so of the 2012 regular season.

Other than 2005, McCarthy also posted the two best WHIP marks of his career in 2011 and 2012.

If the Jays can match his price tag, the only obstacles to signing McCarthy would be the obvious skepticism over his recent head injury and convincing McCarthy to take a lesser role with the Jays in order to be part of a winning team.

The latter shouldn't be too much of a problem, considering the fact that most teams don't skip the fifth spot in the rotation when they have an off-day, unless it's been a real problem spot—something that isn't very likely should McCarthy be anchoring the rotation.

Not to mention, injuries among starters aren't exactly rare and having as much depth in the rotation as possible would be a huge advantage heading into 2013.

With Zack Greinke a long-shot for the Jays (sorry Jays fans) and Dan Haren probably being too expensive now that the Jays have gone on a major spending spree, Brandon McCarthy should be their No. 1 target.

He's the most realistic, affordable and talented option out there.