Despite the fact that 2019 was mostly lost for Ryan Tepera, there are plenty of good reasons to bring him back to the Blue Jays for the 2020 season.
Assuming that Justin Smoak signs somewhere else and the Blue Jays non-tender Devon Travis this winter as expected, Ryan Tepera will be the only player left from the 2015 team that broke a more than two-decade long playoff drought.
That’s assuming that the front office brings him back, and that’s not exactly a guarantee after a 2019 season that was mostly lost to injury. Tepera finished the year with a 4.98 ERA in 23 appearances, throwing 21.1 innings and posting a WHIP of 1.292. He missed the majority of the season because of an elbow impingement that forced him to have a surgery, but thankfully was able to make it back for 11 appearances in September before the end of the campaign.
While it’s not yet known whether the Blue Jays will bring him back, I would argue that Ross Atkins and company have plenty of good reasons to do just that. As the soon to be 32-year-old enters arbitration for just the second time, I doubt he’s going to get a raise from the 1.525 million he made in 2019, and a healthy Tepera should be worth more than that.
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Assuming he’s put the elbow issue behind him, Tepera has the potential to return to the type of form that made him a late-inning option for the Blue Jays in the past, and gambling less than two million for someone like that could have plenty of benefits. The Blue Jays should be an improved team in 2020, and while I don’t know that they should be expected to contend, it would be useful to have a strong back end of the bullpen to help them make some strides in the win department as they continue this rebuild. Plus, finding the payroll space shouldn’t exactly be a problem.
It’s possible that he could continue to be a useful bullpen piece in 2021 as well, as he won’t be a free agent until after that season. With two full seasons of control left at a reasonable price, that could be a strong enough reason to hang on to the right-hander.
I also like the fact that Tepera has been capable of throwing multiple innings in the past. He was a starter at one time, and if the Blue Jays have to lean on their bullpen again in 2020 they did this season, having a strong veteran presence like him won’t hurt at all. It remains to be seen if the Blue Jays will shop Ken Giles this winter as well, and if they do decide to move their incumbent closer, Tepera has some experience in that role, although he wasn’t terribly successful there.
It’s possible that the Blue Jays decide to move on from all three of the remaining veterans from their last contending squad, but my guess is Tepera will be offered a contract, especially after posting a 3.38 ERA in 11 appearances in September. Proving that he was healthy was important, and should be more than enough reason to bring him back for next season.