Blue Jays: Five players who won’t make the team, but will finish the year
A gamble that could really pay off
It was a sight for sore eyes when Julian Merryweather finally made his MLB debut last season. It was only eight appearances, including three starts, but the long wait looked like it was about to pay off.
The Blue Jays acquired Merryweather from Cleveland back in 2018 just before the August 31st deadline, a second deadline that no longer exists. Of course, he was traded for Josh Donaldson so there was always going to be some weird pressure to give the Blue Jays a return for their star. The problem was that Merryweather was still dealing with serious arm injuries, but the Jays felt the gamble was worth it. They’d lost all leverage in their pursuit of trading Donaldson as the former MVP tried to get healthy at the time, and it was their last chance to trade him before he became a free agent.
It’s entirely possible that Merryweather could find a role in the bullpen to start the year, especially after the injury to Yates. However, with one minor league option remaining as well, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him start in Buffalo. He’s expressed an interest in remaining as a starting pitcher as well, and that would require more stretching out anyway. My guess is that’s what he’ll do to begin the year.
However, as long as the fireballer can stay healthy then I’m excited about what he could bring to the Blue Jays’ bullpen in 2021. He has the skill set to really succeed in the role, and if I had my way I’d likely start a full-time transition there now, especially with his injury history.
I don’t know that Merryweather is going to have a shot to win the closer’s role, but I could see him being an important arm in the 6th or 7th inning, or maybe even as a multi-inning reliever following a short-outing starter. Either way, it’s not hard to see him being a solid contributor at some point this year.