Blue Jays: Did Chad Jenkins Get a Fair Shake?
In a traditionally slow portion of the offseason, the Blue Jays have had a busy last couple of days. On Friday they announced the hiring Eric Wedge as player development advisor, and it was confirmed that they had also brought in free agent right hander Gavin Floyd.
The trickle down effect on the big league team was that someone had to be removed from the 40 man roster, and that someone was Chad Jenkins.
Jenkins was a former first round pick in 2009, and had spent his entire career in the Blue Jays system. Although he has never secured a long term role with the big league roster, the now-27 year old pitched to a 3.31 ERA over 100.1 innings with the Jays.
Over his time with the club Jenkins was often the valuable “8th reliever”, frequently bouncing between AAA and the big leagues and filling whatever role the club asked of him. He spent time as a starter, long reliever, and other bullpen roles, and largely succeeded wherever he pitched. Not only did he produce, but having options made him an arm the Jays could stash at Buffalo and wait for injury or ineffectiveness, adding additional value.
Although he didn’t get much of an opportunity in 2015 (throwing only 3.2 innings), he continued to pitch well in Buffalo over 11 starts and 30 relief appearances, he finished with a 2.98 ERA.
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In 2014, it looked like Jenkins may have finally taken that step forward with the club, appearing in 21 games and finishing with a 2.56 ERA over 32.1 innings. Many expected that he may be in the bullpen to start the 2015 season, but the team elected to go with youth and raw talent with names like Miguel Castro and Roberto Osuna (side note: who saw Osuna coming in ’15?). Although he had done nothing but produce, the team once again elected to go with the sexier options, young arms that could throw near triple digits and encapsulated the modern day, lights-out reliever.
The question I’m left asking, and likely Jenkins is asking himself also: Is there no room in the MLB for an effective reliever that relies primarily on a sinker/slider combo? What else did the guy have to do, other than run out of options? The Jays seemed to love the fact that they knew he was in AAA and available when called upon, valuing that flexibility as much as his contribution.
However, that convenient arrangement for the Jays was coming to an end in 2016, as Jenkins is finally out of options and needed to stick with the big league club. Many Jays fans, including myself, expected that he would finally get the opportunity he had arguably already earned, and could provide a valuable multi-inning relief arm and occasional spot start if the injury bug hit the rotation.
Now, Chad Jenkins will likely be pitching in another uniform for the upcoming season, and it almost makes sense that his tenure with the Jays would end this way. Maybe Gavin Floyd ends up being worth the cost of the roster spot, but I would argue that Jenkins could have provided better production, and a far more reliable arm in terms of injury risk. I truly hope he ends up signing in the NL, and the Jays don’t have to seem him very often.
Maybe it’s just me, but this one feels like it could come back to bite the Jays.