Blue Jays bring back RHP Ryan Dull for another look

TOKYO, JAPAN - MARCH 18: Pitcher Ryan Dull #66 of the Oakland Athletics throws in the bottom of 7th inning during the preseason friendly game between Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters and Oakland Athletics at Tokyo Dome on March 18, 2019 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Masterpress/Getty Images)
TOKYO, JAPAN - MARCH 18: Pitcher Ryan Dull #66 of the Oakland Athletics throws in the bottom of 7th inning during the preseason friendly game between Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters and Oakland Athletics at Tokyo Dome on March 18, 2019 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Masterpress/Getty Images) /
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Ryan Dull was designated for assignment by the Blue Jays late last year, but on Saturday they agreed to bring him back on a minor league deal.

The Blue Jays have been fairly active over the last couple of days, even if it’s been of the minor league contract variety of deals.

First they signed Ruben Tejada on Friday to help their middle infield depth, and added to it further on Saturday by signing former San Francisco Giant, Joe Panik. They weren’t done their work for the weekend either, as the Blue Jays signed Ryan Dull to a minor league pact as well, including an invite to Spring Training.

This is actually a return to the Blue Jays organization for Dull, as he was in Toronto for a very short period of time last year. He ended up making just one appearance at the big league level, throwing 1.1 innings and allowing a home run, while striking out three batters. The audition wasn’t enough to save his roster spot, as he was eventually designated for assignment and hit free agency, but the Blue Jays elected to re-sign him on Saturday.

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Dull actually spent last season split between four different organizations. He started the year with Oakland, and was claimed and moved three times including with the Giants, Yankees, and eventually the Blue Jays. He did not pitch in a big league game for the Giants, and threw just 12.2 innings between the other three clubs. Unfortunately things went pretty terribly for him as well, as he surrendered 25 hits and posted an ERA of 12.79.

So what do the Blue Jays see in him? Well, for starters he’s on a minor league contract, so they don’t have to make him any guarantees. If he doesn’t make the team this spring then he could serve as depth in Buffalo with the Triple-A club, and the Blue Jays could use some bullpen arms in that mold.

The upside with Dull is pretty enticing, as he was a very productive reliever back in 2016, and he’s still 30 years old. That season he made 70 appearances and pitched to a 2.42 ERA and a 0.874 WHIP, and striking out 73 against just 15 walks. It was a few seasons ago now, but if the Dull can rediscover that type of form, he could be a tremendous bargain.

While they didn’t have the room to hang on to him at the end of last season, the Blue Jays obviously liked what they saw in him enough to bring him back for at least another Spring Training. The bullpen picture is pretty murky beyond Ken Giles as the closer, so it’s not out of the realm of possibility that he could find himself on the Opening Day roster either, provided he performs well during Grapefruit League play.

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Hopefully the Blue Jays continue to look for bullpen depth, especially now that we’re less than a month away from when pitchers and catchers will report to Spring Training. That said, this time of year usually brings contracts like Dull’s, and hopefully they’ll strike the kind of bargain with him that they have with other recent “bargain bin” relievers like Daniel Hudson, Tyler Clippard, and others.

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