Blue Jays Bullpen Bargain Hunting: Huston Street
If the Blue Jays fortify their right-handed arms in the bullpen, it’ll probably be on a cheaper deal. How about former closer, Huston Street, who is coming off an injury riddled 2017, and will want to re-establish his value.
Of the many areas that the Blue Jays will seek to improve this offseason, their bullpen is in pretty decent shape at this juncture. It’s one of the more volatile positions on the roster, but the Blue Jays have a lot of young, inexpensive, and serviceable talent in the pen, especially from the right side. They could likely stand to add a left-hander this offseason, but otherwise their group is in decent hands.
That said, you can never have enough pitching, and we saw the Blue Jays deal with a host of injuries in 2017, as well as struggles from key members of the bullpen. One of those who had an up and down year was Roberto Osuna, the talented closer who set a personal high for saves, while also leading the American League in blown saves.
The Blue Jays could have turned to Ryan Tepera, Danny Barnes, or Dominic Leone for a spell while he struggled, and they may choose to go that route in 2018 if there’s a rough patch for Osuna again. Closers do need a breath from the rigours of the role from time to time, so having multiple arms capable of finishing off a game is definitely a plus for the group as a whole.
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With that in mind, there’s one name on the free agent market that caught my eye as a possible fit for the Blue Jays, for a number of reasons. Veteran reliever Huston Street had a forgettable 2017 season that saw him appear in just four games, spending most of the year dealing with a rotator cuff strain and issues with his hamstring. The Los Angeles Angels decided to pass on his 10 million dollar option for 2018, making him a free agent.
Still just 34 years old, Street could very well have plenty of useful years left in him, and he’ll be looking to prove just that this year. He could also be a prime candidate for a “show me” contract, when a player who has struggled signs a one year deal to prove their worth, and re-enter the market the following year. The former first round pick of the Oakland A’s in 2004 had 40 saves as recently as 2015, so he’s not that far removed from being effective. You don’t amass 324 career saves by sitting around, after all.
For the Blue Jays, he could potentially offer the perfect type of compliment to Osuna at the back of the bullpen, offering some insurance in the closer’s role if he’s healthy, and also offering him experience and potential tutelage for the youngster. Couple those roles with the fact that he should be had on a one year deal for a fraction of what he made last year, and he could be a bargain waiting to happen.
This is purely speculation on my part, and there haven’t been much in the way of rumours around Street’s free agency thus far. He’s likely in the group that will have to wait out the market a bit, and perhaps that’s when the Blue Jays will be more serious shoppers for bullpen arms anyway. For now, Ross Atkins and Mark Shapiro seem to be more intent on finding an infielder, and an impact arm, which they’ve stated on multiple occasions.
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