Non-Tender Candidates: Relievers


First and foremost, my condolences go out to the family and friends of Sparky Anderson, the only manager in history to lead a team to a World Series Championship in both leagues. Baseball unfortunately just lost one of its greats.

As the Hot Stove starts to boil and the deadline for exercising one of Kevin Gregg’s options mere hours away, the Jays have some decisions to make on a fair amount of their players in the offseason. The Jays have a total of 15 players who are arbitration-eligible, with 5 of them being non-tender possibilities. For anyone who endured sleepless nights because there was no information on Jeremy Accardo or Brian Tallet in my 2011 bullpen post, let’s take a look at them:

Jeremy Accardo – The saga of Jeremy Accardo could possibly come to an end this offseason. After being hurt for most of 2008 following his career year where he replaced B.J. Ryan in 2007, he spent the majority of 2009 at AAA Vegas before earning a September call up. He did well in the 26 games he appeared in, posting a 2.55 ERA and 6.6 K/9 in 24.2 innings. After this late season success at the Major League level, Accardo and his agent went public by requesting Accardo be non-tendered by the Jays and be able to build off his 2009 Major League success (forgetting about his 6.6 BB/9 that year too) with another club.

It took a phone call from new GM Alex Anthopoulos to calm Accardo down and for him to avoid arbitration and accept a 1 year, 1.08M deal that offseason. Accardo went into 2010 with the mindset that things were going to change and it would be different than the way 2009 turned out. He got his chance to pitch 2 weeks into the season, and in 5 games he posted an 8.10 ERA, giving up 6 earned runs and 12 hits in 6.2 innings. He still had an option though, so the Jays sent him back to Vegas where he sat and whined for the rest of the season about how things didn’t change the way he was “promised”.

"“”I was lied to a lot last year, where I was told one thing and something else ended up happening. That didn’t sit well with me, but I turned a leaf and we talked and he told me everything’s going to change, and really things haven’t changed.” Accardo said."

It will be interesting to see what happens with Accardo this offseason. Accardo did have an acceptable season at AAA this year (3.48 ERA in 42 games but a 10.6 H/9) and his MLB track record is decent, so other GMs around the league could perhaps take a flyer on him. The Jays have three options:

Option #1: Sweet talk Accardo into accepting another one year contract, or offer him arbitration anyway so one way or another he’s in a Blue Jays uniform in the spring, allowing him to either pitch himself into or out of a bullpen spot in 2011.

Option #2: Include Accardo in part of a trade package or even on his own before the arbitration deadline to get something (even if it’s not that great) in return for him.

Option #3: Cut him loose and non-tender him.

Accardo is still relatively young at 28, and would be under team control for 2 more seasons so he could benefit another club. Optimally Anthopoulos could use him in a trade, but if that fails I wouldn’t be surprised after his attitude in AAA this year that the Jays just non-tender him.

Brian Tallet – As someone who has met Tallet personally, it’s unfortunate that he struggled so much in 2010. I am definitely not a Tallet fan, but he and his wife love the city of Toronto and are settled there. Baseball is a business though, and looking at Tallet’s numbers this past year, his 2011 case isn’t the strongest.

To say Tallet had an “off” year or a bad season is an understatement. Overall, he finished the year 2-6 with a 6.40 ERA in 77.1 innings. His 9.8 H/9, 2.3 HR/9, and 1.578 WHIP were all his highest since joining the Jays in 2006. Some people would say his 5 starts at the beginning of the year inflated his numbers, but he actually had a better ERA (5.40) as a starter than he did as a reliever (6.84). As a reliever he had the highest ERA, most home runs allowed (13), and most earned runs against (38) on the team. He was 2nd in walks to only Kevin Gregg, who pitched more innings than him.

The only good thing about his season was his splits against left-handed hitters. Versus righties, Tallet had a horrendous .320/.415/.617 line, while having only a .176/.228/.343 line against lefties. It also seems that Rogers Centre isn’t his favourite “park” to pitch in, as on the road he had a more respectable 4.38 ERA and .232 opponent batting average. He is in his final year of arbitration and could get something similar to the $2M he made in 2010. He could likely find a job as a long relief option or a lefty specialist out of the bullpen with another team in 2011, as he will almost certainly be non-tendered by the Jays this offseason as the look to revamp their bullpen going forward.

I’ll have more on the rest of the non-tender candidates tomorrow!