Blue Jays add Phil Coke on a minor league deal


You can always tell a team is still trying to find itself when it keeps taking chances on restoration project arms as we get closer and closer to the midpoint of the season. That may not be the way the Toronto Blue Jays drew things out this winter, but it is the reality of the situation.

On Saturday night, the Blue Jays kept that revolving door spinning, adding left-hander Phil Coke on a minor league deal, per Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish.

The Phil Coke signing is a relatively low-risk move for a Blue Jays bullpen that has yet to really step up in 2015. According to Cotillo, the Blue Jays will only have to pay Coke the pro-rated Major League minimum if he makes the active roster at some point this season. The deal also includes a couple of opt-out dates for the left-hander, a fail-safe if he is not on the Major League roster in a timely manner.

The 32-year-old Coke is a seasoned bullpen arm. In eight seasons between the New York Yankees, Detroit Tigers, and Chicago Cubs, the left-hander has a career 4.21 ERA and a 7.0 K/9 ratio over 399 appearances. However, he was roughed up in 2015 while with the Cubs, surrendering 14 hits and seven earned runs over just 10 innings of work in Chicago.

While those numbers contributed to a 6.30 ERA in Cubby blue, his peripherals of a .406 BABIP, a 3.51 FIP, and a 2.61 SIERA would insinuate that Coke was more a victim of bad luck that of pure decline in skill. However, it is worth pointing out that the lefty had always featured that way, posting a career 4.21 ERA against a 3.71 FIP and a 3.92 SIERA, all likely the victim of a ridiculously high .320 BABIP and a low 69% LOB rate.

The Blue Jays bullpen ranks 20th in the league with a 3.88 ERA, 23rd with a 6.97 K/9 ratio, 26th with a 3.27 BB/9 mark, and dead last with a 4.55 FIP. Needless to say the team could use all the help it can get, and taking a chance on Phil Coke isn’t necessarily a bad idea. Granted, it isn’t the sexy move of adding a proven closer and allowing all the other arms to slide into more comfortable roles, but it doesn’t hurt the team either.

If anything, adding Phil Coke could allow the Blue Jays to rely less of Aaron Loup, who has been awful in 2015, posting a 5.12 ERA and allowing 20 hits in 19.1 innings of work. That’s got to be good for something, right?!

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