In an effort to bolster their bullpen, could the Toronto Blue Jays bring back a familiar face in Brandon Morrow?
The Toronto Blue Jays could reunite with a face we’ve not seen for a while. In fact, no big league audiences have seen much of him over the past few seasons, but Brandon Morrow has found a groove in Los Angeles and very well could find himself a bullpen piece in high demand. He looks to be healthy and is performing like we all hoped he would way back when. The Blue Jays would do well to pursue him this offseason.
The Toronto Blue Jays have bullpen pieces that have emerged as potentially reliable (and cheap) options. Ryan Tepera and Danny Barnes have proven to be among the only dependable arms for John Gibbons to call upon once his starter left the game. You might put Dominic Leone in this group, too. Roberto Osuna is one of the best closers in baseball. Joe Biagini could fit back in this group, but if the offseason goes poorly, he may be asked to start. The rest of the ‘pen has been a revolving door of call ups. No, I’m not forgetting about Aaron Loup. But, he’s Aaron Loup, so…
The way bullpens are evolving, they are becoming more and more important than ever before. A team may not be able to wait until January or February to address this portion of their roster. It is well worth the time and energy to go after pieces just as actively as starters or position players. That is especially true for free agent arms that are coming off years like the one Morrow has seen with the Dodgers.
Morrow did not start a single game in 2017. It’s odd that it took this long for a team to completely abandon the idea of him starting, but it was a move that has paid off. In 43 innings pitched, Morrow has 6 wins and a couple of saves to his credit. He pitched to a 2.06 ERA and 1.6 fWAR. His K% reached a career high at 29.4%, while his walk rate of 5.3% is also a career best. Just to add to the idea, Morrow also saw the highest SwStr% of his career at 15.9%. He held batters to a .194 average, while putting up a WHIP of just 0.92. Most impressively, Morrow did not give up a home run in all of the 2017 season. Not one.
Morrow seems to have abandoned his change up, opting for the fastball, slider, cutter combination. The best part: his velocity is up across the board. According to Fangraphs, his fastball averaged 97.8 mph and had a wFB value of 13.9! This is good news for those who read the title of this post and automatically thought of his questionable health. After all, it is his health that impacted his ability to be effective for the last few years.
However, it looks as though, a combination of health and altered usage have Morrow entering free agency at the right time. He will look to parlay this recent success – including a postseason run – into a deal for next year. Actually, at 33 years old, he will likely be aiming for a bit longer than just the one year. Last offseason, Morrow signed a minor league deal that would see his earnings rise to $1.25M if he made the big league roster. He is all but guaranteed to beat that this time around.
For the Blue Jays, bringing Brandon Morrow back to Toronto should be something that gets a lot of discussion time behind the closed office doors. Morrow is a bounce back bullpen arm that could very well be affordable. While he might be looking for 2 years, at least, the Blue Jays could offer him one guaranteed with an option for the following year. Should he replicate his 2017 success, he will be well worth the $2M or $3M it might take to land him. Of course, there is no such thing as a guarantee in baseball and his health history should do well to keep his price down.
The fact that Morrow has starting experience could be appealing for this Blue Jays team as well. But, they really need to know that he is healthy and would continue to be should he increase his innings total next season. Playing this conservatively though, he is worth exploring as a straight up bullpen arm. While other areas of this team need attention, building a solid bullpen cannot be ignored. To that end, Brandon Morrow is a potential arm that could help the Blue Jays in 2018.
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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.