Blue Jays: Free agent bullpen targets with closer’s experience

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Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

RHP Chad Qualls (37)
2015: 49.1 IP, 4.38 ERA, 1.115 WHIP

Qualls signed with the Houston Astros entering 2014, but recently had his 2016 contract year bought out for $250,000. You’ll admittedly need to stretch back a bit further to find any additional closer’s experience past his 19 saves in 2014, but he’s handled the role well enough on multiple occasions and has remained a respectable, albeit unspectacular arm well into his 30s.

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Before his most recent stop in the ninth inning role, Qualls recorded 24 saves in 2009 and 12 in 2010 for the Arizona Diamondbacks at a varying level of success. Jumping back to 2014, where Qualls made good on 19 save attempts, he posted a 3.33 ERA and has been good for approximately 0.5 WAR in each of the past three seasons.

The calling card for Qualls has been his excellent control, with a career BB/9 of 2.3 that he’s dropped all the way to 1.3 over the past two seasons. He’s also been able to produce ground balls at a high rate with a career mark of 57.9% that has topped a season-long 60% twice. At the Rogers Centre, with Toronto’s defense, that could play up.

Qualls gets by with a sinking fastball and a slider, both of which have remained inconsistent from year to year. He’ll be in no position to seek multiple years or a hefty salary, and while he may fill the LaTroy Hawkins role better than he fills the Mark Lowe one, there might be some gas left in the tank. Fumes, probably, but gas nonetheless.

Next: Last stop: Tying up some odds and ends