On Blue Jays & Plundering the Pirates for Lefty Relief Help

 

Jays From the Couch looks at the possibility of the Blue Jays exploring some of the Pittsburgh Pirates possible bullpen trade pieces.

 

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As we head deeper into the Holiday season, the Hot Stove is smoldering. What better way to warm up than some hot lefty reliever action to get you through the cold month of December?

 

On Monday, JP Morosi tweeted out some nuggets on the Blue Jays longing for lefty help out of the bullpen, mentioning interest in Jerry Blevins and Boone Logan. These are names that have been mentioned on the Couch before (Blevins here and Logan here), but Morosi went further to whet the mouths of Blue Jays fans with reported interest in recently-crowned World Series Champion, Travis Wood.

 

After 77 appearances in 2016 and with a 2.95 ERA and 1.13 WHIP bargaining chip, the market for Wood is expected to be pretty strong. While he seems like an ideal fit, the Blue Jays front office isn’t likely to jump in and overpay for Wood, who will likely be seeking a contract in the neighborhood of ex-Blue Jays great Brett Cecil’s – at minimum.

 

The lefty market, however, is yet to develop. It’s hard to imagine the remaining teams with vacancies paying the price St. Louis did for Cecil (as well as the price Colorado paid for Mike Dunn), especially Toronto. It wouldn’t be surprising to see the Jays look to fill the void with a small trade, rather than stressing the team’s budget on a 70-inning guy in a nearly 1500-inning season.

 

A tweet and poll later on Monday afternoon over from Pirates Breakdown led to some interesting thoughts in regards to acquiring lefty relief. The Pirates bullpen is a honey hole of strong left-handed relievers, enough that the team will likely consider moving at least one this offseason. Tony Watson and Antonio Bastardo highlight the list, but Pirates Prospects blogger Tim Williams also mentions Felipe Rivero, Wade Leblanc and Tyler Webb all as possible candidates to be dealt.

 

The Blue Jays and their fans are well aware of Wade Leblanc, having homed the veteran in 2015 as Triple-A depth before trading him for cash and a player to be named to the Seattle Mariners. While he never pitched for the Blue Jays, he was a remnant of the previous regime and likely won’t be back to Toronto any time soon.

 

Tony Watson highlights the cast of Pittsburgh relievers, and it was a bit of a surprise at the deadline in 2016 that both Mark Melancon and Tony Watson weren’t moved. It may have worked in Pittsburgh’s favor, though, as his trade value has probably never been stronger. He finished 2016 with a solid 3.06 ERA and saved 15 of 18 games after the trade.

 

At 31 and making just $3.45M (likely to go up in arbitration) this season, Watson should be in high demand. The market for relievers is at an all-time high, and the current Blue Jays brass has shown a reluctance to trade high-quality prospects for win-now pieces at the MLB level.

 

Year Age W L ERA G GF SV IP H ER HR BB SO HBP ERA+ FIP WHIP BB9 SO9
2016 31 2 5 3.06 70 27 15 67.2 52 23 10 20 58 3 137 4.37 1.064 2.7 7.7
162 Game Avg. 4 2 2.56 68 11 3 65 49 19 6 18 58 4 148 3.46 1.035 2.5 8.0
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/20/2016.

 

While Watson may be a difficult land, Antonio Bastardo might be the most likely lefty traded by the Pirates this season. He’s the same age (31) as Watson and comes at a higher price ($6.5 Million), but he also comes with a lesser-impressive resume.

 

Year Age Tm W L ERA G GF IP H ER HR BB SO ERA+ FIP WHIP BB9 SO9 SO/W
2016 30 TOT 3 0 4.52 69 11 67.2 60 34 11 32 74 92 4.67 1.360 4.3 9.8 2.31
2016 30 NYM 0 0 4.74 41 11 43.2 41 23 8 21 46 87 5.07 1.420 4.3 9.5 2.19
2016 30 PIT 3 0 4.13 28 0 24.0 19 11 3 11 28 103 3.94 1.250 4.1 10.5 2.55
162 Game Avg. 4 3 3.75 67 14 63 47 26 6 30 76 106 3.57 1.227 4.3 10.8 2.52
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/20/2016.

 

It’s worth mentioning, of course, that 2016 was a bit of an outlier for Bastardo. He tends to bounce back and forth between very good and average seasons, but he’s only one year removed from a 2.98 ERA over 57 innings.

 

Felipe Rivero was the cornerstone of the Mark Melancon deadline trade this past season. He’s a rare hard-throwing lefty, with an average fastball of 96.4 MPH in 2016, just his second season in MLB service. He’s more of a closer-type guy than a loogy, And with Roberto Osuna, Jason Grilli and Joe Biagini in the Toronto bullpen, Rivero isn’t much of a match with the team’s current needs.

 

Year Age Tm Lg W L ERA G GF SV IP H ER HR BB SO HBP WP ERA+ FIP WHIP BB9 SO9
2015 23 WSN NL 2 1 2.79 49 17 2 48.1 35 15 2 11 43 1 2 143 2.64 0.952 2.0 8.0
2016 24 TOT NL 1 6 4.09 75 11 1 77.0 66 35 7 33 92 6 3 103 3.46 1.286 3.9 10.8
2016 24 WSN NL 0 3 4.53 47 8 1 49.2 43 25 4 15 53 5 1 93 3.27 1.168 2.7 9.6
2016 24 PIT NL 1 3 3.29 28 3 0 27.1 23 10 3 18 39 1 2 128 3.80 1.500 5.9 12.8
2 Yrs 3 7 3.59 124 28 3 125.1 101 50 9 44 135 7 5 115 3.14 1.157 3.2 9.7
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/20/2016.

 

Tyler Webb was selected in this year Rule 5 draft from the Yankees and is yet to debut at the MLB level. He’s had success in the minors, with a 3.48 ERA over 214+ innings. Webb made it to Triple-A and had a pair of good seasons there, albeit taking a step back in 2016 with Scranton Wilkes-Barre. With the plethora of lefties in the Pittsburgh system and the Jays success with 2015 Rule-5 draft pick Joe Biagini, it makes sense that any conversations between the two teams may involve Webb.

 

There’s been no specific rumours linking the Pirates and Blue Jays in discussion for anything, and it’s not blatantly obvious what the Pirates may be looking for in return for a lefty. They own one of the better outfields in baseball (with top prospect Austin Meadows not far away), and some have argued that the time is now for the team to deal Andrew McCutchen – who might also fit real nicely with the  Blue Jays. Their pitching staff is solid as well, but the team seems to lack depth at the middle infield, which most won’t say is a strong suit for Toronto, either – but there’s definitely some interesting and blocked players in the Toronto organization worth dangling in a package.

 

While a fit may be a bit of a stretch right now, a deal between the two teams might fit both right as rain – or as we say here at the Leftorium – left as rain.

 

 

 

*Featured Image Credit: Keith Allison UNDER CC BY-SA 2.0

 

 

 

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Roy’s earliest memories all involve baseball from the early 90’s and the Blue Jays dream teams. He became a Blue Jays fan while watching Carlos Delgado and Shawn Green evolve in Syracuse, NY at the run-down confines of MacArthur Stadium, nestled between highway and swamp. A lifelong baseball player, Roy still plays (P, C, 2B, 3B) in the 25+ Syracuse MSBL for the Liverpool Mets. He watches almost all games with his best buddy Sebastian, a five year old Pug, who could care less.

Roy-Z

Roy’s earliest memories all involve baseball from the early 90’s and the Blue Jays dream teams. He became a Blue Jays fan while watching Carlos Delgado and Shawn Green evolve in Syracuse, NY at the run-down confines of MacArthur Stadium, nestled between highway and swamp. A lifelong baseball player, Roy still plays (P, C, 2B, 3B) in the 25+ Syracuse MSBL for the Liverpool Mets. He watches almost all games with his best buddy Sebastian, a five year old Pug, who could care less.