The new additions
When I think about the “quiet value” that the Blue Jays got out of their bullpen shopping this winter, it really comes down to a couple of guys who could contribute far beyond compensation.
Early in the winter Atkins signed David Phelps to a creative contract, and he could earn anywhere from one million up to eight million, depending on how many appearances he makes. That’s significant as he comes off of an arm injury, and will give him plenty of incentive to work hard to get ready, and to contribute at the top of his game.
Prior to his Tommy John surgery that made him miss all of 2018, Phelps was a solid reliever that could pitch in the late innings. He had a 3.40 ERA in time split between Miami and Seattle in 2017, and was even better in 2016 with a 2.28 mark across 86.2 innings. If he performs anywhere near the standard of those two seasons, he’ll be a valuable arm for Charlie Montoyo, and probably a sought after trade chip this summer.
The other potential late-inning arm belongs to Bud Norris, who was just signed last week to a MiLB contract. Based on his performance it’s a bit of a surprise that he was still unsigned, but perhaps it had something to do with the clashes he had with young players in St. Louis recently, which makes his signing in Toronto at least a little curious.
Still, Norris can certainly pitch, and he 3.59 ERA across 64 appearances for the Cardinals last year, picking up 28 saves as well. The former starter has found some success in the bullpen, and I imagine the Blue Jays will likely utilize him somewhere in the 6th or 7th inning on a fairly regular basis. He’ll have to make the team first of course, but that shouldn’t be a problem at this stage of the offseason, and he could bring a lot of quiet value, especially for the pittance he signed for.