According to one rumor, the Toronto Blue Jays are showing interest in yet another bullpen upgrade.
When the Toronto Blue Jays traded for Drew Storen, the fanbase got excited for the implications that the move brought. It would create a little more wiggle room for decisions about youngsters like Aaron Sanchez and Roberto Osuna. As well, it brought a legit late inning option to the club. It is what we’d call a “win-win”. After the deal we’d heard that the club was not done; that perhaps there was more to come.
Well, there very well could be. According to Robert Murray of Baseball Essential, there are 4 teams showing interest in lefty reliever, Antonio Bastardo. Now, this isn’t exactly a piece of info from one of the more well known MLB reporters out there. But, Murray claims to have “sources” and credits himself (in his site bio) with breaking Billy Butler and Francisco Liriano stories. We have to assume that means when they signed their last deals. So, you can take the rumor for what you like.
Any time something like this is dropped, you have to at least think about whether it makes sense. Critical literacy is important, kids. So, does it? Would adding Bastardo make sense for the Blue Jays?
He’s 30 years old. He won’t turn 31 until nearly the end of September. It’s a good time to sign him. In 2015, he went 4-1 with a 2.98 ERA in 57 innings for the Pirates. You might also recall his time with the Phillies (as pictured in the featured image) where he piled up some pretty attractive strike out numbers. In 2012, he put up 14/9 innings. Here are a couple of things that stand out when you look at last season according to Fangraphs.com: 10.05 K/9 (nearly 27%), 4.08 BB/9 (nearly 11%), .186 opp avg, 78.5% LOB, 31% GB.
He features a fastball, slider, change. He threw the fastball 74% of the time in 2015 and his velocity (92.7 mph) was higher than it has been since 2010. As well, his fastball was worth an impressive 9.2 runs above average (wFB). He generated 14.6% swinging strikes.
Bastardo made $3.1M in 2015. He put up 0.6 WAR, which sets his value at $4.8M. This offseason, as a free agent, he’ll be looking for more than that. This is especially so in a year where relievers are seeing relatively huge contracts. John Axford is getting $5M per season for the next two years. So, someone as potentially effective as Bastardo will be seeking more. Let’s say he’s looking for $6M per season. Do you offer him 3 years?
It might make sense. With Storen and Brett Cecil looking like they’ll hit free agency at the end of 2016, perhaps now might be the time to soften the blow. Bastardo could help in 2016, but also insure against total bullpen depletion in 2017. This might be of even more interest when you factor in the future(s) of Sanchez and Osuna. Adding Bastardo this season may provide even more flexibility, both now and in the future.
And that is not even factoring in the impact that this potential deal (which remains to be seen) has on the rotation. Another effective arm in the bullpen alleviates the pressure on the starting rotation to go deep into games, which is an ability that is somewhat questionable at this point.
It can be so easy to talk yourself into rumors making sense. For all of the above reasons, this one just might. But, we also have to remember the belief that the Toronto Blue Jays are still a cost conscious team. Can they afford to add a rather pricey reliever? This is especially questionable when you consider the financial commitment that might be required to retain Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion.
Regardless of whether there are any teeth to this rumor, it certainly has the potential to be a logical fit. Bastardo would add another arm to solidify a bullpen in a time when MLB is coveting the almighty ‘pen.
*Featured Image Credit: Matthew Straubmuller UNDER CC BY-SA 2.0
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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.