The continued search for relief help has seemingly stalled for the Toronto Blue Jays, with the team no closer to filling out its bullpen today than it was when the offseason began nearly three months ago. However, reports are starting to trickle in a bit more about Toronto’s involvement in the relief market and some of the target the team may pursuing.
One such report came from Jon Morosi of Fox Sports earlier this week, tying the Blue Jays to former Dodger and White Sox reliever Ronald Belisario.
As per usual, the Blue Jays are not alone in their interest in Belisaro, just as they weren’t with Burke Badenhop earlier this week, with the Washington Nationals, Boston Red Sox, and Tampa Bay Rays also in pursuit. However the market for Belisario will be significantly different for Belisario, as the right-hander has more appeal as a potential bargain to those clubs looking for a good bargain.
At 32-years-old, the Venezuelan is coming off the worst season of his 5-year MLB career. In 62 games with the Chicago White Sox, Belisario was stung for a 5.56 ERA and finished the season with a 4-8 record and blew 8 of his 12 save attempts on the season.
However, is peripheral stats were actually better than the initial glance would foretell. While his ERA was bloated, he was likely the victim of an abnormally high .339 BABIP. The fact that he put up a much better 3.54 FIP, 3.69 xFIP, and 3.22 SIERA showcases further that his ERA was more a condition of bad luck or equally rotten support behind him in the field.
When you put the ball on the ground as much as Belisario does, 59.3% in 2014 and 60.4% during his career, you expect some better results in terms of converting those ground-balls to outs. With a career 2:1 GB/FB ratio and an average K/9 ratio of 7.3 over his career, Belisario relies on that conversion to get the job done.
That said, it would be safe to say that Ronald Belisario is due for a rebound of sorts, or at the very least a leveling of the playing field. However, that won’t prevent teams from seeing him as a buy-low candidate. With a salary of $3 million in 2014, it would be expected that he’ll come at a slight drop in pay, perhaps to the point of $2 million on a one-year deal.
At that rate, the Blue Jays could be tempted to take a chance, at least in a middle-relief, set-up role. His peripherals don’t track well in terms of closer material. However a rebound year could provide a nice bridge to whomever is closing games in Toronto in 2015.