Blue Jays Rumors: Ronald Belisario a strong bullpen target


When we last spoke of former Chicago White Sox closer Ronald Belisario, we identified him as a potential rebound candidate that the Toronto Blue Jays should be looking into. Nearly two weeks later and amid an ever-shrinking relief market, it appears the Blue Jays are seeing the same things we highlighted.

According to Jon Morosi of Fox Sports, the Blue Jays are in hot pursuit of Belisario and are making a strong push to sign the free agent.

The timing of such reports are oddly telling, as the Washington Nationals plucked former Blue Jays closer Casey Janssen off the market on Wednesday, shrinking the market further. Not that a reunion between Janssen and the Blue Jays was likely, but it also takes one further target off the books that other teams like the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays could have also been in the mix for.

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The other factor in play here is that Janssen, despite his struggles last season, was able to ink a deal paying him $5 million for the 2015 season, a steep price for what is guaranteed to be a set-up role. That would seem to indicate that the market on available arms like Burke Badenhop, Francisco Rodriguez, and Rafael Soriano are not going to shrink into the territory where the Blue Jays would feel comfortable.

That leaves Beliario as the best available candidate for Toronto. Belisario made $3 million during the 2014 campaign, a season where he struggled in the closer role for the White Sox, blowing 4 of his 12 save opportunities behind a 5.56 ERA and a huge .339 BABIP, which was nearly 50 points higher than his .288 career mark. It would stand to reason that even in the current climate, Belisario is likely to see a salary in the same range for 2015, if not a minor pay cut on a one-year deal.

That wouldn’t be a bad investment for the Blue Jays. As I highlighted a few weeks ago, Ronald Belisario’s peripheral indicators were much better than his ERA showcased, with the right-hander posting a 3.54 FIP, 3.69 xFIP, and 3.22 SIERA. Coupled with the fact that he holds a career 2.34 Ground-Out to Air-Out ratio, he would be an excellent bounce-back candidate.

However, a year-to-year arrangement would certainly be best for Belisario and the Blue Jays. The right-hander has posted some marvelous seasons over the course of his career, but as you can see from the above stat table, he hasn’t been a marvel of consistency either.

The question then circles around to what happens next. As Alex Anthopoulos noted yesterday (h/t Ben Nicholson-Smith, Sportsnet), the Blue Jays are still in play in many different relief scenarios. If the Blue Jays do land Belisario, do they continue to pursue Badenhop and install Brett Cecil or Aaron Sanchez in the closer role? Or do they try to land Soriano or Rodriguez to close, keep Sanchez in the rotation, and slide Cecil into the set-up role he has excelled in over the last two seasons?

There are still quite a few moving pieces in play right now for the Toronto Blue Jays, but time is running out to start putting them in place.

Next: Is Jose Reyes the answer to the Blue Jays search for a 2nd baseman?