The Blue Jays don’t need much to complete their bullpen and signing Collin McHugh could be a great final piece
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Much of our attention will be on the Toronto Blue Jays’ search for an impactful infielder and a fifth starter, but they would do well to consider adding to their bullpen. After signing Yimi Garcia, the relief corps looks rather good. They don’t need to do much to round it out. They very well could look for those late offseason (with the CBA up in the air, everything could be late offseason) minor league deal type signings and be just fine. But, if they really want to give themselves a chance to start the season in the best shape possible, they should consider signing Collin McHugh.
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|AL (||AL (||AL (||64||36||3.47||232||117||37||817.1||747||315||85||231||817||3.48||1.197|
|NL (||NL (||NL (||0||8||8.94||15||9||3||47.1||72||47||11||13||28||5.86||1.796|
McHugh is 34 years old, but don’t let that fool you. He is coming off a 1.8 fWAR season pitching for the Rays. He put up a 1.55 ERA, 2.12 FIP with 74 strike outs in 64 innings and a LOB rate of 81.3%. What is interesting is that he totalled those 64 innings in just 37 games. Tampa Bay used him in the opener role against Boston in the postseason, which is something Toronto could consider. They could also think about using him as a multiple inning reliever should one of their starters only make it 4 or 5 innings.
The real appeal to McHugh, especially to the Blue Jays is that he comes with a rather nice strike out rate. His 2021 rate was 30%, compared to a walk rate of just 4.9%. We know that the Blue Jays front office likes to bring in guys who can get swings and misses. When the rest of the world laughed at them for trading for Robbie Ray, they believed his strike out ability would be worth it, and it was.
McHugh comes with a very attractive Statcast profile as well:
The really fascinating part of all is that is that he found himself in the 4th percentile for fastball velocity. Typically, when a guy is striking out that many hitters, you would expect that he throws serious heat. However, according to Fangraphs, his heater averaged 90.9 mph, which is right around his career average. Even more interesting is that McHugh doesn’t throw his fastball all that much anyway. He used it 10.9% of the time in 2021, relying on his cutter (33%) and his slider (52.9%).
There is a caveat, here. McHugh took a $1.8M deal with the Rays last year after missing all of the 2020 season. He certainly bounced back just fine and will not be looking for a deal like that this time. As well, he is very involved with the MLBPA, so will not be looking to hand out any discounts in what just may be the last deal of his career. At 34 years old, and coming off the 2021 he had, he is not likely going to settle for one year. If the Blue Jays are interested, and they should be, he will likely be looking for multiple years.
The consistently tough projections from Steamer are not kind to McHugh. They have his 2022 looking like 63 innings in 63 games with a 26.2% K%, a 7.6% BB%, an ERA of 3.75, a WHIP of 1.22, an xFIP of 3.89 and 0.6 fWAR. I would suggest that, while he may not repeat his 2021 showing, those numbers are a little harsh. However, in the past, the Blue Jays put approximately a $9M value on a single win. In the context of the 2022 season, where every win means so much, they might even value them more. But, if we work with $9M and McHugh is expected to put up half a win, a $5M salary is not crazy. In fact, it is rather reasonable.
If the Blue Jays sign McHugh for two years with an option or a third year based on innings pitched, they will have themselves an affordable strike out reliever and what could be the final piece in their bullpen.
*Featured Image Courtesy Of DaveMe Images. Prints Available For Purchase.
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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.