The Toronto Blue Jays have added to their pitching depth by acquiring Arnold Leon from the Oakland Athletics for cash.
Much of the conversation surrounding the Toronto Blue Jays has been about how their pitching depth will shape up over the next couple of months. Many people have been trying out different scenarios in their heads to sort out just who will be part of the 2016 season. And, we all figure that there will be no significant additions via free agency; at least none that will top the J.A. Happ move.
Instead, the club is expected to simply add a plethora of minor pitchers, or those on the MLB fringe, and hope that some of them step up to contribute. It isn’t the most popular strategy in the world, but it might prove to be effective. By going this route, they are paying minimal prices for players who could contribute just as much as those on the open market. After all, when it comes to the bullpen, the difference in performances of the most expensive arms and the cheapest may not actually amount to a whole lot. It’s a logical, cost effective strategy, if nothing else.
Enter Arnold Leon. In the story that reported the deal, Sportsnest’s Ben Nicholson-Smith tells us that he’s a 27 yr old righty who, according to Fangraphs.com, has only pitched 26.2 innings at the big league level. That was last season where he went 0-2 with a K/9 rate of 6.41 and a BB rate of 3.04. His ERA was 4.39. Initially, this may not be the kind of stuff that gets fans excited.
He features a fastball that hits almost 92mph, a slider, curve ball and a change up. His slider appears to be his best offering with a value of wSL/C of 2.08. That’s 2 runs above average per 100 pitches. What may scare some fans is the 80.2% contact rate (84% in the zone) and the fact that batters swung at under half of his offerings. However, we have to remember that these numbers come from the small 2016 sample.
Really, what we should take away from Leon’s history is the fact that in 2014, he tossed 145 innings to a 10-7 record in AAA. Perhaps, the Blue Jays will be honing in on this aspect. Right now, the appeal of having a guy who has started in the past and has bullpen experience could be his most appealing offering.
Leon will take a place on the 40 man roster and join the likes of Joe Biagini, Ryan Tepara, Bo Schultz and others who might be on the outside of the MLB bullpen picture at this point. Likely ahead of him are (hopefully) Steve Delabar, Aaron Loup and, of course, Brett Cecil, Aaron Sanchez and Roberto Osuna.
Perhaps the best thing about this move is that cash considerations are usually small and he provides options and depth. Like Chavez, Leon very well could be used as a long man. Or, he could be added to the starting depth with Roberto Hernandez and Brad Penny. Which ever way it shakes out, the club is looking to have more and more options at their disposal. The options aren’t of the more well known variety, but they also don’t cost the “well known” prices.
*Featured Image Credit: Freaktography- flickr- Creative Commons
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Shaun Doyle is a long time Blue Jays fan and writer! He decided to put those things together and create Jays From the Couch. Shaun is the host of Jays From the Couch Radio, which is highly ranked in iTunes, and he has appeared on TV and radio spots.