As of this writing, Darren Oliver is still yet to choose whether he will be returning for the 2013 season with the Blue Jays. Oliver hinted at the end of last season that he would have to contemplate retirement after this year so that he could spend more time with his family. For their part, Toronto has already exercised their club option on Oliver for next season, putting the ball in the pitcher’s court in regards to pitching a 20th season.
The Blue Jays would like Oliver and his rubber arm to help anchor what looks to be a decent bullpen next season, but should he choose to retire or push for a trade to Texas in order to be closer to home, the final winter tasks suddenly take a much different direction.
Alex Anthopoulos has two worthwhile trade chips with which to work with in J.P. Arencibia and Emilio Bonifacio. Both could be flipped to secure the fifth starter the team truly needs, replacing J.A. Happ in the rotation, but should Oliver opt out, Toronto could be forced to use them in a different way.
One such deal has been rumored to involve the Atlanta Braves. The Braves are said to be interested in Bonifacio and are said to have discussed trading lefty Eric O’Flaherty to Toronto in return. O’Flaherty would be a solid replacement for Oliver, especially after producing a four consecutive seasons with an ERA at or below 3.04 and a career 54.4% groundball rate.
Of course, another option would be to allow Aaron Loup and Brett Cecil remain the two lefties in the bullpen. The team could then pursue free agent Mike Adams and add another solid right-hander to the back-end of the bullpen. Adams is likely looking for a three-year deal, somewhere in the range of the deals awarded to Brandon League, Jeremy Affeldt, and Joakim Soria.
Signing Adams would also allow the Blue Jays to continue to package Arencibia and Bonifacio if they want to find that final starter, if they so choose. However, at this stage, the team would be wading into unknown waters by taking on any more salary at this stage and may just stand pat hoping to get Oliver in the fold.