Blue Jays: 3 DFAs to explore, 3 to ignore

May 1, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Toronto Blue Jays relief pitcher Andrew Albers (67) pitches in the fifth inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
May 1, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Toronto Blue Jays relief pitcher Andrew Albers (67) pitches in the fifth inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports /

GM Ross Atkins has stated that the front office will continue to evaluate possible additions to the club into August.

Like many teams at this juncture of the season, the Blue Jays could use some reinforcements, especially to cover for a recent spat of injuries. The team is currently dealing with the absence of outfielders Jose Bautista, Kevin Pillar, and Ezequiel Carrera, as well as the nearly forgotten Gavin Floyd, who is a long shot to return before season’s end.

Despite the recent test to the outfield depth, the club is actually set up quite well in 2016, especially compared to previous seasons. The only potentially glaring need may be for another bullpen lefty, but otherwise the club should be able to withstand the temporary outfield losses, especially because they’re all expected to be short term.

With that in mind, do the Blue Jays need to make any more moves, or is this a finished product? No doubt Ross Atkins and Mark Shapiro will continue to keep their ears to the ground but I wouldn’t expect much, if anything, to happen before August 31st.

That said, it’s still fun/worrisome to speculate, so here are some possible available names to keep an eye on.

3 To Explore

Brian Matusz- RP

Matusz started his season with the Baltimore Orioles before being traded to the Atlanta Braves with a competitive balance pick in a salary dump deal. The lefty never appeared in a game for the Braves before they designated him for assignment. The former 4th overall pick in the 2008 draft signed a minor league deal with the Chicago Cubs, before again being designated for assignment, and electing free agency.

The 6’5 southpaw hasn’t found success this season, despite his solid track record. So far in 2016, Matusz has only pitched 9 innings combined between the Cubs and Orioles, and is looking to latch on to another club. From 2013-15, he posted a combined 3.32 ERA with a 9.4K/9, and held lefties to a horrific line of .190/.245/.320.

He may be looking to start, but if he’s open to a LOOGY job in the Jays’ pen, he could be a possible fit.

Matt Thornton- RP

The 39 year old lefty reliever was designated for assignment by the San Diego Padres on August 6th. Thornton was designated to make room on the roster for Clayton Richard, whom the Padres signed and needed to add to the 40 man.

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Thornton hasn’t done a whole lot to get excited about this season, only pitching in 18 games and 17 innings. He hasn’t fared well since moving to San Diego, with an ERA of 5.82, and a 1.647 WHIP in limited appearances.

It’s difficult to make an argument for an arm the Padres deemed expendable, but the Jays have been fortunate with a pair of 39 year old veterans in Jason Grilli and Joaquin Benoit. Thornton did also finish his 2015 season with a 2.18 ERA over 60 appearances, so he’s not that far removed from having value.

Andrew Albers– SP/RP

Albers is no stranger to the Blue Jays organization, having spent the 2015 season in Buffalo, and also throwing 2.2 innings with the Jays in one appearance.

Albers spent the 2016 season with Twins organization, with all but one appearance coming in Triple A. He recently been promoted and performed well in a long-man outing, but then was designated by the Twins.

While it’s a long shot that the Jays would be interested, they’ve shown a fondness for signing Canadian born players, and any left-handed arm could be worth a look.

3 To Ignore

Carlos Gomez

I recently wrote a dedicated piece to why I don’t see Gomez as a fit for the Jays (feel free to check it out here), and I don’t feel any different a couple days later.

It’s been reported that the Mets may have some interest, and oddly enough the Cardinals may as well. Both teams are in search of a boost, especially the Mets after manager Terry Collins sounded off on his team on Friday.

Overall though, Gomez has been a disaster in Houston this year, hitting .210/.272/.322 with only 5 home runs and 29 RBI. He was bad enough that the club chose to cut ties with him, despite being a possible playoff contender.

Tim Lincecum

It was exciting to see that Lincecum was returning to the field this year, supposedly in full health after an operation to the hip that had ailed for him for years. Things started out great for Lincecum in his first start with the Los Angeles Angels, and everything was downhill from there.

The former Cy Young winner finished with a disastrous 9.16 ERA and a 2.374 WHIP over 9 starts and 38.1 innings pitched.  If not for the Angels’ glaring need in the rotation, Lincecum may not have received the lengthy audition he did.

The 32 year old will likely have to spend the rest of the season in Triple A where he recently accepted an assignment, and will hopefully be able to recapture some of his old magic once he’s further removed from surgery. He’s certainly not in a position to help a contender this season.

Jonathan Papelbon

The former All-Star closer asked for, and was granted his released from the Washington Nationals, which was announced on Saturday, so he wasn’t technically DFA’d. Papelbon had recently been ousted as the team’s closer in favour of new acquisition Mark Melancon, and is looking for a fresh start elsewhere.

Yes, Papelbon does have a successful track record as a late inning reliever, and also spent many years pitching well in the AL East. However, the 35 year old has struggled this season, and hasn’t exactly endeared himself to the clubhouse during his tenure with the Nationals (see: strangling franchise player last season). With the success of Grilli and Benoit in the late innings for the Jays, this doesn’t feel like a worthwhile risk.

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It’s pretty slim-pickings, but that’s what you get in August after the non-waiver deadline. Fortunately the club is pretty well set up in the depth department, and has managed to stay relatively healthy this season, all things considered.