Blue Jays: Predictions as Free Agency opens
The Blue Jays have a solid stable of right-handed arms in the bullpen, and it should be a strength for the club in 2018 as long as the group stays healthy. While there were up and down portions of the calendar for the bullpen, they did an impressive job considering the amount of innings they were tasked with on a consistent basis, the most for any ‘pen in the bigs.
The team should expect Roberto Osuna, Ryan Tepera, Dominic Leone, and Danny Barnes back from the right side, with a group like Carlos Ramirez, and Tom Koehler hoping to earn a spot as well. If the Blue Jays ultimately decide to give up on Joe Biagini as a starting pitcher, he’ll factor into the equation as well, so it’s a crowded group. For what it’s worth, I would guess that the front office will non-tender Koehler, but could potentially bring him back as a cheaper free agent, if he’s willing of course. Either way they should have plenty of depth from the right side in the bullpen.
So that leaves my prediction on lefty front, and there are some in house options here as well. I’m going to guess that just one of Aaron Loup, Matt Dermody or Tim Mayza breaks camp with the team, as I feel like the front office would like to bring in a veteran option here, as they tried to do with J.P. Howell in 2017. Loup could end up as a non-tender candidate as well, but he may have performed his way into another season with the Blue Jays.
As far as a prediction for an addition, I’m going to go with Zach Duke. Now 34 years old, Duke spent the 2018 season with the Cardinals organization, and returned from Tommy John surgery to appear in 27 games, throwing 18.1 innings. He had a 3.93 ERA and a WHIP of 1.036, so his performance was admirable, especially coming off the surgery.
While there are sexier, more “guaranteed” options on the free agent market like Jake McGee or Mike Minor, the Jays have enough talent in the bullpen that they’ll likely try to get away with a cheaper contract in this spot. With the above mentioned in house options available as well, bringing in a veteran like Duke to the mix will hopefully do everything they hoped Howell’s addition would last season.
Prediction: 1 year for 4 million, with a mutual option for 3.5