Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
J.P. Howell (32)
2015: 44.0 IP, 1.43 ERA
I’ll break the rules here and include a player that has yet to hit the open market. The Dodgers had a $6.25 million team option on Howell for 2016, but after surpassing 120 appearances between 2014-15, a clause in his contract triggered that to become a player option. Given his potential to strike it big with a multi-year deal, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him decline.
Since signing with the Dodgers in January of 2013, Howell has been downright dominant while used as a lefty specialist. Over the past three seasons, he’s pitched 155.0 innings in 200 games while posting a fantastic 1.97 ERA. For a team seeking out a left-on-left ‘pen arm, this is the guy.
Does that fit Toronto, though? If Aaron Loup were not in the picture, this could be a great matchup to pair him in alongside Cecil. The Jays could very well decide that the possibility of Loup regaining form at his price tag outweighs the net cost of someone like Howell.
If he does creep into the conversation, though, and he will for many teams, his slash line in 2015 against left-handed batters of .224 / .295 / .224 is truly elite. Right-handed bats tend to eat him up, but in the right bullpen, that wouldn’t be much of an issue. So while Howell isn’t the likeliest candidate on this list, I can’t help but picturing him in tandem with Aaron Sanchez, the righty-killer.
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