Why a plethora of Blue Jays’ bullpen options is a mixed blessing.
The Blue Jays have put together a very long list of relievers competing to fill out the bottom of their bullpen and to serve as depth. The bullpen overall has been a focus this offseason. Rightly, they’ve worked to improve an area of weakness.
Contending for the final two (maybe three) roles are a glut of others: Mat Latos, Gavin Floyd, Mike Bolsinger, Bo Schultz, Brett Oberholtzer, Aaron Loup, Ryan Tepera, Danny Barnes, Dominic Leone, Matt Dermody, Leonel Campos, Chad Girodo, Wil Browning, Jeff Beliveau, Jarrett Grube, Tim Mayza, Chris Smith, Murphy Smith.
Some have a leg up due to option considerations (Bolsinger and Schultz), some are out of the running due to injury (T.J. House, Glenn Sparkman) and others have made waves early in camp (E.g Mayza as our Brendan Panikkar just wrote about).
Two of those listed will start the season with the Blue Jays but where will the other fifteen go? To the minors obviously but the Bisons have just seven spots in their bullpen too. Where do the remaining eight after that go? New Hampshire, but again, seven spots. What about all the relief prospects who were slated for New Hampshire? The rest all way down to Dunedin? You get the picture: the Blue Jays have a reliever logjam—one that is currently being felt down to the lowest levels of the system.
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Supposing Bolsinger and Schultz stick with the Jays, let’s plug the other names into the minor league ‘pens:
Buffalo— Loup, Tepera, Barnes, Leone, Girodo, Floyd, Oberholtzer
New Hampshire— Campos, Browning, Dermody, Mayza, M. Smith, C. Smith, Beliveau
Essentially, the entire New Hampshire bullpen has been pushed one level down. And Dunedin’s down to Lansing. In Lansing, the crowding gets even worse: by my estimation, nearly 20 relievers will be competing for seven spots as things currently stand.
Depth is, of course, great, but too many MiLB journeymen types can clog the ranks and impede prospect development. It’s a delicate balance. Toronto needs enough depth to cover the many contingencies which arise in a season but not so many that future arms are held back from progressing.
There will be more injuries (an unfortunate reality) throughout the system, which will ease congestion somewhat, however, the Jays will likely have to cull the herd somewhat as well. 10-12 depth options, able to fill in at the major league level, would be a good number to pare down to. Fifteen is a bit too much of good thing. But who to cut and who to keep?
There are no easy decisions but as they say, it’s a good problem to have.