There’s no shortage of non-tendered relievers to choose from this year, and the majority of them are at least worth taking a look at.
Add these players to the numerous possibilities in next week’s Rule 5 Draft, on top of trades and free agency, and the Jays should have no problem rounding out their 2011 bullpen and re-stocking their minor league teams with relief arms.
RP Joel Peralta – 2010 Club: Washington Nationals
Initially signed as an amateur free agent by the Athletics in 1996, Peralta was signed to a one-year, minor league contract with the Nationals for the 2010 season.
Peralta was definitely the most shocking reliever to be non-tendered this year.
Owning a career minor league 2.97 ERA, 2.7 BB/9, and 9.5 K/9, Peralta was downright dominant starting the year with Triple-A Syracuse, posting a 1.08 ERA, 1.9 BB/9, and 10.3 K/9 through 33.1 innings. His strong showing earned him a promotion to the Majors, where he picked up right where he left off.
In 49 innings (39 games) with the Nationals this year, Peralta posted a 2.02 ERA, 0.796 WHIP, and 5.5 H/9. He had a 1.7 BB/9 and 9.0 K/9, good for a fantastic K/BB of 5.44. Throughout his career, Peralta has been more effective versus right-handed batters, and limited them to a .145 average in 2010. Overall, opposing hitters mustered just .170/.214/.307 against him this year.
Peralta will be 35 years old by Opening Day, and his major league track record prior to his stellar 2010 campaign has not been bad, but has not been spectacular either. The only knocks on Peralta would be his low ground ball rate (26.2%) and high fly ball rate (55.6%), but they did little to negatively affect his stats this season.
That being said, it’s hard to ignore the kind of numbers Peralta put up in Triple-A and the majors this year. He boasts primarily a three pitch repertoire, consisting of a fastball, curveball, and split-fingered fastball. He has, however, thrown cutters, sliders, and changeups in previous years too.
It is unknown whether or not Peralta will be seeking a Major League contract as a result of his 2010 success, and he would be an absolute steal if he were to be signed to a minor league contract by the Jays with an invite to spring training.
That seems unlikely, and even if the Jays have to offer him a major league deal it would be somewhere in the neighborhood of $1 million or less.
RP Erick Threets – 2010 Club: Chicago White Sox
A 7th round pick by the Giants in the 2000 draft, Threets was also signed to a one year, minor league contract, by the Chicago White Sox for the 2010 season.
The 6’5”, 240-pound left-hander, has spent the last five years at the Triple-A level, where he has never had an ERA over 3.46 in any of those seasons. His K/9 has slightly dipped every season for the last five years in the minors, but Threets is continuing to find ways to be effective.
His success in the minor leagues earned him a brief promotion to the White Sox in 2010, where he allowed only 9 hits and no runs in 12.1 major league innings. At the time of his promotion, Threets was sporting a 0.86 ERA with Triple-A Charlotte in 21 innings, while only walking five without giving up a home run. Threets only gave up one home run in his entire 2009 season.
He relies primarily on his fastball, but can pitch sliders and changeups as well.
Threets seems like an ideal candidate for a minor league contract with an invite to spring training for the Jays. Due to his limited major league experience, the Jays could sign him to a very cheap contract, while adding excellent bullpen depth. Threets would be a quality reliever for Triple-A Las Vegas as a worst case scenario.