Unfortunately, the market does not appear to be too kind in that regard.
Every team goes looking for relievers in the offseason, and having a surplus of them could be seen as a position of strength, especially when teams would rather find an affordable option rather than overspend on the free agent market. The Blue Jays have that surplus, with Brett Cecil, Aaron Loup, Sergio Santos, Dustin McGowan, Casey Janssen, and Steve Delabar all forming a solid core in the bullpen. However, recent events may have made them less attractive, or at the very least, worth a much smaller return.
First off, Casey Janssen would likely be the most marketable member of the bullpen this winter. He has an affordable salary for a closer ($4 million) and is coming off of two career years, including 34 saves in 36 chances this season. Unfortunately, for the Blue Jays, there are suddenly a ton of available pitchers with closing experience available. Included among them are Chris Perez, Joaquin Benoit, Edward Mujica, Joe Nathan, Fernando Rodney, Jose Veras, and Brian Wilson. Mujica and Veras in particular could be seen as reasonably priced alternatives for teams looking to take a chance and wouldn’t cost a signing team anything aside from a relatively moderate contract.
If the Jays are going to flip anyone in a trade, it isn’t likely to be Casey Janssen. Rather, they could look to trade one or two of their set-up men; Santos, Delabar, McGowan, Loup, or Cecil. The market here is significantly less appealing to would be suitors, as the free agent group is full of journeyman that are going to require someone take a chance, especially in regards to the right-handed variety where Jesse Crain, Juan Carlos Oviedo, and Francisco Rodriguez are the most appealing names.
The left-handed market has a bit more flavor, with former Blue Jay Scott Downs, Javier Lopez, Boone Logan, Manny Parra, and Oliver Perez all available. The Blue Jays may try to insert Brett Cecil into this mix, hoping to sell high on his career year (5-1, 2.82, 10.4 K/9). However, a trade for a right-handed arm is more likely at this stage.
The heavy market will certainly impact what Toronto can ask for in return, especially if they are expecting any significant return. Granted a reliever isn’t likely to bring back anything of major value, but a higher value would certainly help keep the team from digging too much deeper into their farm system this winter. Given the way things worked out last winter, that is the last route the front office, and the fan base for that matter, want to go.
So what do you think Blue Jays fans. Which member of Toronto’s bullpen has the most value, and which do you think is eventually moved by the team this winter?