The Toronto Blue Jays will see several of their 2017 depth pieces hit free agency in the hopes of finding a deal for next season
Like every other team, every other year, the Toronto Blue Jays will have work to do to provide depth for their roster. That often includes players who will reside in AAA with the hopes of helping out the big league club at some point that season. Depending on how the big league club’s fortunes play out, these players could get a taste of The Show.
In 2017, players like Mike Bolsinger, Mike Ohlman and Lucas Harrell saw varying amounts of playing time with the big league club. Now that the season has come to and end, there is a group of players who will be looking to find themselves a home in 2018. While most of us won’t lament the loss of these players, for the Blue Jays, there will need to be some work done to fill the holes (such as they are) that the departure of these depth pieces created.
— Ben Nicholson-Smith (@bnicholsonsmith) October 21, 2017
Bolsinger saw time in 11 games, including five starts. In 41.1 innings, he allowed 29 earned runs on a 1.815 WHIP. He struck out 19.9%, but walked nearly 14% as well as giving up nearly two home runs per nine innings. The all or nothing approach to the strike zone is a dangerous game to play and Bolsinger found out the hard way.
When we spoke to him last offseason, he told us that he spoke to the Blue Jays organization about the possibility of being a bullpen arm that can provide a couple innings at a time. Whether that was the plan for him in 2017 is anyone’s guess, but the club’s situation necessitated him making those starts. Moving forward, one has to wonder just how he and his agent will market him over the offseason.
Jeff Beliveau was an interesting depth piece. In 50 AAA innings, he compiled a 4-1 record with a solid 3.04 ERA. He left 80% on base and struck out 29%. But, things didn’t go well for him during his call up. In 15 innings of work, his ERA more than doubled to 7.47 on 17 hits, 13 earned runs. This type of performance makes him a very nice candidate for the type of depth pieces a team needs. He would be a guy assigned to AAA and called upon in an emergency.
Given the Blue Jays question marks around their backup catching, Mike Ohlman might be a tempting piece for Toronto to bring back. They have a number of young catching pieces that will make their climb through the organization, but Ohlman could be a bridge for this team. In 332 AAA plate appearances, he hit 12 HR and drove in 38 RBI. Of course, he struck out at a downright ugly rate of 34.6%. He hit .216…in AAA. Though, his time in Toronto wasn’t exactly stellar on the offensive side of things (he had 3 singles in 13 PA), he did manage to put up a 0.3 Def rating. His glove could be worth bringing back.
Brett Oberholtzer will once again try and find a team willing to give him a chance after going 4-8, 4.12 with the Buffalo Bisons last season. Lucas Harrell had a better season in AAA with a 2.08 ERA, but had 6 innings of big league time that saw him sport a ERA over 7. T.J. House will likely find a minor league deal with someone this winter as he tossed 133 innings and put up an ERA of 4.32. Nick Tepesch had some success in Buffalo, which could help him show that his time in Minnesota’s organization was not a true reflection of what he can do.
All of these guys are the kind of depth teams need. While most of our winter will be focused on players who will directly impact Toronto’s big league fortunes, we have to remember that these minor league/AAAA/emergency call ups are just as much part of the game. They don’t grab headlines, but come January and February, these are the types of players that start finding their homes. Whether it is anyone from this list, or from another, the Blue Jays will need to find guys to take their spot.
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