The Blue Jays continue to kick tires on lower-cost free agent relievers. Among their rumored targets is Yusmeiro Petit, formerly of the San Francisco Giants
A report from Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith late Tuesday night listed three additional relief arms that the Blue Jays have expressed interest in. Among them were Joe Blanton, whose name has surfaced a handful of times over the past month, and former Nationals right-hander Craig Stammen, who we explored last night as a potential buy-low candidate coming off surgery in 2015.
The newest name of the bunch was Yusmeiro Petit, the right-hander that’s rejuvenated his career with the San Francisco Giants over the past few seasons, starring in the 2014 World Series run. Fun fact: Petit is the only player to win both the Little League World Series and the MLB World Series.
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It’s been an interesting ride for Petit. A Mets signing in 2001, he was part of the 2005 package that brought Carlos Delgado over from the Florida Marlins. Petit would struggle to a 5.05 ERA with the Arizona Diamondbacks from 2007-2009 and then, at age 25, would begin a three year stretch of Minor League and Mexican League ball that prefaced his emergence with the Giants.
After working sparingly as a starter in 2012-2013, Petit would split 117.0 innings between the bullpen and rotation in a strong 2014 campaign before taking on a full-time relief role this past season. In that spot, Petit continued to put up respectable, albeit unspectacular numbers. Over 42 games and 76.0 innings, the 31 year old posted a 3.67 ERA with a 7.0 K/9 and quality BB/9 of 1.8.
The 2014 playoffs are still where most Blue Jays fans will recognize the name from. His signature performance in that championship run came in the marathon second game of the NLDS between the Giants and Nationals, where Petit entered in extras to throw six brilliant innings of one-hit ball and earn the win in 18 innings.
Petit has garnered some moderate interest since being non-tendered by the Giants, and could find a role as a long man out of the pen, a competition piece for a fifth starting job or anything in between. The Toronto equivalent would be a Jesse Chavez, I suppose, though Petit may be better geared for the ‘pen role.
On the mound, he’ll mix an offering of a fastball, slider, curveball and changeup. The heater, which stays lukewarm around 90 MPH, betrayed Petit in 2015 after being a passable pitch in the two seasons prior. Instead, it’s his curveball that he leans on for best the results, which earned an excellent PITCHf/x value of 11.3 this past season after marks north of 5.0 in 2013 and 2014.
If we’re looking at fit, though, Petit and the Blue Jays don’t hold hands very naturally. A long man role would be the best spot for him under the current roster construction, but if Aaron Sanchez, Drew Hutchison or an incoming arm can edge out Jesse Chavez for the fifth rotation job, it seems he takes that long man job by default. Stretching him back into a full-time starter as depth doesn’t seem terribly logical, either, nor does slotting him anywhere above the fifth man in the ‘pen.
He’s certainly shown flashes of being “very good” across his recent stretch of being “pretty good”, however, so there’s always the potential for more. As a complimentary bullpen piece, Petit is absolutely fine, but his standalone value isn’t about to revolutionize Toronto’s back end.