After acquiring Randal Grichuk from the Cardinals on Friday, the Blue Jays focus turns to the pitching staff. While the options could be nearly endless when it comes to potential bullpen arms, here is a look at some of the remaining options on the free agent market.
The Blue Jays have depth in the bullpen with young arms like Carlos Ramirez, Tim Mayza, Matt Dermody, along with veterans like Aaron Loup, Danny Barnes, Ryan Tepera and of course Roberto Osuna. However, with the departure of Dominic Leone in the trade with St. Louis, the uncertain role of Joe Biagini next season, and the need for a more reliable left handed reliever, a couple of additions to the bullpen would be nice.
That said, the Jays could very well start the season with the current relievers and spend the rest on a big name starter, like it’s been speculated they will do. The Blue Jays will most probably add relievers via minor league deals.
Who might the Blue Jays target, and who is available? Here are a few options still remaining:
Tony Watson LHP
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The left handed reliever finished the 2017 season strong with the Dodgers after coming from the Pirates in a trade at the July deadline. He ended up putting very strong numbers with a 3.38 ERA in 66.2 innings (2.70 with the Dodgers).
Going into the season with Aaron Loup and possibly Tim Mayza as the main lefty’s in the bullpen isn’t the most preferable scenario, and adding Watson would definitely mean an upgrade in the bullpen with a player who has a lot of experience as the set up man, as well as closing games.
He’s also been one of the most often used relievers in the game over the last five years averaging 73 innings a season. He will most probably get a two year deal this offseason.
Tyler Clippard RHP
Tyler Clippard had an irregular season in 2017. In New York with the Yankees he had some up and downs which led to a trade to the White Sox that saw Clippard end up in Chicago. After having success with the White Sox in just 10 innings, the Astros acquired him. The veteran right hander ended up having a bad end of the season with the World Series Champions and ended the campaign with a 4.77 ERA in 60.1 innings.
A one year deal like Joe Smith got last year with the Blue Jays wouldn’t be bad and he has proven that he can be a very valuable and solid arm down in a bullpen in his career. If things don’t go well for the Blue Jays until July, if he works out, he could be a good trade chip like Joe Smith in 2017.
Sergio Romo RHP
Sergio Romo struggled with the Los Angeles Dodgers until he got traded to the Rays, where he excelled. In 30.2 innings in Tampa Bay he had a 1.47 ERA. Just like Clippard, he might get a similar deal to Joe Smith’s in 2017. His veteran presence with a solid major league career might make him appealing as the Blue Jays have several young arms in the likes of Carlos Ramirez, Tim Mayza, and even his compatriot Roberto Osuna.
Adding on to that, his complete dominance in his time in the AL East will also help his cause. His career 2.69 ERA cannot be anything but intriguing for any team looking to improve its bullpen and bring in an impact arm.
Fernando Abad LHP
A similar pitcher to Tony Watson, Fernando Abad might also be a very appealing arm. Also a left handed reliever, Abad would bring some certainty to the bullpen from the left side and avoid putting all the pressure on Loup and youngster Tim Mayza. Like Watson, Abad isn’t a strikeout pitcher but can give you very solid innings out of the bullpen. He has experience in the AL East as he’s just been with Boston for the last season and half of 2016. Although he wasn’t used in high leverage situations by John Farrell in Boston, he is a solid arm to have in a bullpen and could very well be considered an upgrade, especially after the JP Howell experiment failed in 2017.
Matt Belisle RHP
The 37 year old reliever could be one of the cheapest options who can end up being very valuable for a bullpen. After a very strong season in 2016 with the Nationals in which he posted a 1.76 ERA, he signed with the Twins for the 2017 season. He started the season in a rough way, but in the second half he figured it out and had a 1.71 ERA in 26.1 innings which brought his ERA down from 5.82 to 4.03.
Although he is in his late 30’s, a one year deal would not hurt the Blue Jays, unless they plan to sign a big name starter, and he could end up being a nice addition, or a good trade chip at the deadline.