Blue Jays Looking to Add Reliever, Why Not Lyon?


September 23, 2012; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays relief pitcher Brandon Lyon (31) throws a pitch against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Tampa Bay Rays defeated the Toronto Blue Jays Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY SportsJon Heyman of CBSSports tweeted Tuesday that the Toronto Blue Jays are still looking to add another reliever to the back-end of the bullpen. The team is purportedly looking to find an arm that is also capable of closing games, which would help protect them against a decline by Casey Janssen and further health issues or ineffectiveness by Sergio Santos.

Heyman then goes on to name some possible options remaining on the market, including Francisco Rodriguez, Matt Lindstrom, Matt Capps, Juan Carlos Oviedo (formerly Leo Nunez), Jose Valverde, Kyle Farnsworth, and Brandon Lyon as possible matches.

Of course, all of those names mentioned have previously closed games in the past, albeit to varying results. However, K-Rod is not coming to Toronto unless he is being promised the closer’s role and the team does not need that headache. Valverde is said to be considering retirement, and even if he was returning, his six-consecutive seasons with a declining strike-out rate should make any team hesitant to make him the back-end of their bullpen. Lindstrom, Capps, and Farnsworth don’t exactly excite a fan too much either. Meanwhile, Oviedo is coming off of Tommy John surgery in September.

That leaves us with a familiar face; Brandon Lyon.

The biggest knock against Lyon has always been his ability to stay healthy. It seems that every time he has been entrusted with a closer’s role, he gets hurt and someone else steps up. However, the Blue Jays are not necessarily looking for a dyed-in-the-wool closer either. Janssen is going to get the first crack at it, but it looks like Anthopoulos wants to line-up a possible committee of potential closers should Janssen stumble.

Lyon showed in his 30-game stint in 2012 that he can pitch in Toronto, posting a 2.88 ERA and 10.1 K/9 ratio over 25.0 innings pitched, finishing 10 games in the process. That said, he would be a solid addition to the set-up corps.

His salary would likely be in the range of the $4-$5 million, which is in line with the contracts signed by other set-up pitchers this winter. Toronto has $3 million tied up right now, awaiting the decision of Darren Oliver. That money frees up, should he retire, but Anthopoulus has already said that there is no guarantee that money will be spent elsewhere. That would likely mean a cheaper option, which makes the aforementioned Lindstrom, Capps, and Farnsworth a more likely decision.

But wouldn’t you, as a fan, rather have a known quantity in place than taking a low-rate flyer?