The Blue Jays’ front office has been known to buy low on relievers in free agency and flip them in July for valuable pieces
The Toronto Blue Jays could probably enter the 2020 season without any more changes to their roster, though it is entirely possible that they look to bolster their bullpen. Over the past few winters, we have seen this front office look to acquire affordable relievers, hope they put up solid performances and then flip them at the Trade Deadline to collect young talent. It is a process that has worked for them.
Another way to look at it is, throwing spaghetti at a wall and hoping it sticks. If it doesn’t, it didn’t cost much and if it does, they get a Samad Taylor, Thomas Pannone or Forrest Wall to enhance their organizational depth. With that in mind, it might be worth taking a look at relievers still available on the open market and see if there are any spaghetti candidates.
Cody Allen was once a near lock for 25+ saves when he was with Cleveland. In fact, from 2014 through 2018, he collected 147 saves and compiled just over 6 fWAR. Sicne then, he’s dealt with injuries and signed a one year deal with the Angels, who cut him loose after 23 innings and a 7.02 xFIP. After that, the Twins tried to make a go of it with him, but it did not work out. Allen could be the kind of low investment option that we’re talking about here. 2019 saw him issue far too many free passes and fly balls. Once well into the mid 90’s with his fastball, he sits at 92.8. Perhaps on a minor league deal, hoping for some health and consistency form the 31 yr old wouldn’t be unreasonable. Oh, and this front office knows him well.
Arodys Vizcaino is a 29 year old who is looking to bounce back after a shoulder injury that limited him to just 4 innings in 2019. He’s got closing experience, reaching double digits in each of the previous three seasons. Once able to stay at ~98mph, if healthy, he could be a rather nice gamble. His career K% of 26.3% is certainly appealing. Again, depending upon health, he could be a nice set up man. Add the excellent career HR/9 of 0.83 and he becomes rather enticing.
Moving to a lefty, Robbie Erlin (29) is interesting in that you may not have heard of him, but his 2018 performance landed him on the Top 20 K/BB in MLB for the last three seasons. He saw a K/BB ratio of 7.33 in 2018, which gave him the 5th best mark over that time period. His career K% is 19.1% compared to a BB% of 4.8%. His career WHIP is 1.27. These numbers were kind of surprising, so a trip to Baseball Savant was worth a trip. There, we see that he has a starter’s arsenal that includes a fastball spin rate in the 64th percentile and a curve spin rate in the 66th percentile. When he gets hit, he gets hit hard, but he does not give up free passes, so he would be well worth consideration.
There are a number of free agent relievers still available on the open market, all coming with varying degrees of risk and potential reward. The three listed above are who I might look at if I were in the Blue Jays front office. They are not guys who figure to be long term solutions for much of anything other than netting the team some young talent in July. Sure, there is risk in taking gambles, but the 2020 season provides that. And, the above three are not likely to cost a fortune, which means the risk is more palatable, considering the potential reward.
I understand that playing the speculation game is a fool’s errand, but it is fun to try and guess along with the team. They may be comfortable with the options they have in house, which our Ryan Mueller has been highlighting for some time now. or, they may look to return to the well again and turn a low investment into something of value, assuming they stick to the wall when thrown. If they do, the above might be worth considering.
Or, you know, there’s this:
— Marcus Stroman (@STR0) January 17, 2020
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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.