If the Toronto Blue Jays are going to add to their bullpen, Fernando Abad might be a cost effective way to do so
The Toronto Blue Jays will head into the upcoming Winter Meetings in Florida. While we’ll keep you up to date with everything that happens via our 2017/2018 Offseason Tracker, right now, it looks like the shopping list is in the preparation stage. At MLB.com, Gregor Chisholm offers up a summary of what GM, Ross Atkins is likely to look for. And, really it is pretty straightforward. After the middle infield and outfield and possibly another starter is sorted, the bullpen will likely need some attention. One name that Chisholm mentions as an interesting thought is Fernando Abad.
And, quite honestly, he wouldn’t be…wait for it…Abad idea. Sorry. Please keep reading.
Seriously, Fernando Abad very well could be a complimentary piece for a bullpen that features question marks with high upside. While the likes of Danny Barnes and Ryan Tepera certainly excited us last season, it remains to be seen if they’ve established themselves in the realm of ‘dependable’. The Blue Jays also have some bright young talent that showed glimpses of being ready for a bullpen job. But, showing glimpses of possibility isn’t exactly a comfortable rack upon which to rest your 2018 hat.
Instead, adding Fernando Abad could be a rather shrewd move. He is a lefty that could partner up with Aaron Loup. He’s about to turn 32, so would provide a bit more length in the bullpen teeth, which could provide a bit more confidence to start the season.
Over the last three seasons, Abad has seen his ERA drop from 4.15 to an acceptable 3.30. Per Fangraphs, last season, he saw his strike out rate hit 20.3% to go with a walk rate of 7.7%. His WHIP (1.24) was the lowest of his career (assuming you don’t count his 19 innings in 2010). His 43.2 innings in 2017 came in 48 games for the Red Sox – a fact we won’t hold against him. A guy’s gotta eat. Being used as more of a lefty specialist might be something worth considering since 2017 saw lefties hit .224 against him, a mark that is 10 points lower than his career number. That said, righties haven’t exactly had that much more success against him. In fact, righties had a higher OBP thanks to 9 walks compared to the 5 lefties took.
Abad features a fastball, change and curve that he uses to get a career GB% of just over 40%. In 2013, he saw a fastball surge as he averaged 94.5 mph, but last season saw him right around where he started MLB: 91.5 mph. He gets good separation with his 77.8 mph change up. Since 2014, Abad has seen his contact rate increase each year, resting at 82.7% in 2017. As well, his swinging strike rate has fallen each year to 7.1%. So, for a bullpen piece, he’s not exactly the guy that might fit the current idea of how a bullpen should work: ie: throwing heat and getting swings and misses.
Reading that might cause some people to think that he really isn’t a guy the Blue Jays should pursue. In fact, he may appear to be too…”meh”… for some people. And, that might be why he is worth considering. If the Blue Jays are going to compete, they’ll need bullpen depth. The old abacus doesn’t have enough beads for the number of arms that came in and out of Toronto’s clubhouse last season. Depth is important, particularly affordable depth.
He is a free agent who made $2M last season after agreeing to terms (losing arbitration is the same, right?) with Boston. Sure, he’ll probably look for more years than that, but shouldn’t expect to earn much more annually. Perhaps, the Blue Jays would consider spending $3M on a guy who could give them somewhere in the neighbourhood of 0.5 wins. He put up 0.3 each of the last two seasons. It’s not Roberto Osuna‘s 3 fWAR, or even Tepera’s 1 fWAR. But, $3M is not a lot of money these days. Some would even say it is close to the going rate for someone like Abad.
While Fernando Abad is not going to be a major headline when he signs this offseason, he very well could be an average bullpen piece, which the Blue Jays very well could use in 2018. The more depth you can provide your squad, for as little as possible, the better off you’ll be. Adding a veteran arm to this relief corps means that Toronto isn’t forced into using their youth as heavily as they did last year.
Fernando Abad might not be the sexy choice for a bullpen job in Toronto, but at a reasonable price, his average performance could well be a positive addition to the Blue Jays’ bullpen.
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