Blue Jays: 5 RH relief pitchers to consider in free agency

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Sep 13, 2015; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates relief pitcher Joakim Soria (38) pitches against the Milwaukee Brewers during the tenth inning at PNC Park. The Pirates won 7-6 in eleven innings. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Joakim Soria   (31)
2015: 67.2 IP, 2.53 ERA

Soria represents the top-end name that closer-needy teams will be targeting this free agent period. If Toronto finds themselves in that category, they’ll kick the tires on the Mexican right-hander Soria, who was traded from Texas to Detroit in 2014, then from the Tigers to Pittsburgh in 2015.

Breaking into the league as a star closer with the Kansas City Royals at age 23, Soria saved 160 games from 2007-2011. A Tommy John surgery would force Soria out of baseball for the entire 2012 season, but he’s steadily improved from 2013 onwards. In 2015, he posted a stellar 2.53 ERA with a 1.094 WHIP.

Soria did see his K/9 drop to 8.5 in 2015 while he allowed home runs at a higher rate than usual. This always steers me in the direction of velocity for a pitcher in their early or mid-thirties, but with Soria, there don’t seem to be any problems there at all. His fastball actually jumped from an average of 90.3 MPH in 2014 to an average of 92.1 this past season, which he compliments with a quality slider, changeup and curveball.

For a team needing to find an above-average closer to plug-and-play, Soria is the guy in this market. He’s experessed an interest in returning to the Tigers, but should see several multi-year offers on the open market. If the Blue Jays feel their net expenses would be better suited by moving Osuna into the rotation and paying top-end reliever dollars as opposed to top-end starter’s dollars, Soria’s in the conversation.

Next: A groundballer to Burke into the offseason plan