Blue Jays: How are the ‘retained salary’ players performing this season?

Sep 1, 2020; Miami, Florida, USA; Toronto Blue Jays relief pitcher Shun Yamaguchi (1) delivers a pitch in the 6th inning against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 1, 2020; Miami, Florida, USA; Toronto Blue Jays relief pitcher Shun Yamaguchi (1) delivers a pitch in the 6th inning against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports /

The Toronto Blue Jays have had a rollercoaster of a season so far in 2021. With injuries to numerous players on the roster to the emergence of Vladimir Guerrero Jr. on both sides of the field, this year so far has been a whirlwind of emotion for most of the Blue Jays fanbase.

While the current roster is made up of a good mix of homegrown talent and free-agent signings, not every player signed by the front office has made a positive impact on the team, so much so, that management even decided to cut some players loose even with money still owed on their contracts. These players were then able to sign with other teams, with the Blue Jays still carrying the burden of their salary even though they are no longer with the organization.

Shun Yamaguchi – RHP

Signed in the 2019/2020 off-season, Shun Yamaguchi spent roughly 14 seasons playing professional baseball in Japan before inking a two-year contract with the Toronto Blue Jays.

With experience as both a starter and a reliever, the Jays decided to use Yamaguchi out of the bullpen, and his rookie season in the major leagues was a rough turn of events for the right-hander. Over 17 appearances, Yamaguchi would pitch to an 8.06 ERA with 23 earned runs, 17 walks, and 26 strikeouts, struggling with his command on the mound and just having difficulty adjusting to Major League Baseball.

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In a somewhat surprising move this off-season, the Blue Jays decided to designate him for assignment, with the front office deciding to release him once no other team picked him up on waivers. Once a free agent, the San Francisco Giants would sign him to a split contract (depending on if he is on the major or minor league squad) and he is currently in AAA, having appeared in four games (three of them being starts) and sporting a 5.89 ERA with 12 earned runs, 12 walks, and 22 strikeouts on the year.

The Blue Jays are currently paying him $3.175 million dollars this season.

Tanner Roark – RHP

Another addition during the 2019/2020 season, starting pitcher Tanner Roark was brought in due to his reputation of pitching deep into ball games, good enough to earn a 2 year – $24 million dollar contract from Ross Atkins and co.

The Toronto Blue Jays have three players in Shun Yamaguchi, Tanner Roark, and Troy Tulowitzki, that are no longer with the organization but are still on the team’s 2021 payroll after being released from the roster.

What transpired was the exact opposite for Roark, as he produced one of his worst statistical seasons in 2020 with a 6.80 ERA to go along with 23 walks, 14 home runs allowed, and 41 strikeouts. The 2021 season did not produce better results, as Roark was moved to the bullpen after his first start and threw to a 6.43 ERA in three appearances. The Blue Jays would DFA him in late April and he was later released by the organization.

Just over a week later, the Atlanta Braves signed the right-hander to a minor league contract and has been pitching in AAA since, pitching out of the bullpen to an 8.10 ERA through three appearances with six earned runs, one walk, and eight strikeouts.

The Jays are currently on the hook for $12 million until the end of the season.

Troy Tulowitzki – SS

That’s right, the Blue Jays are still paying Tulo.

Acquired back in 2015 under general manager Alex Anthopoulos, Troy Tulowitzki was a bit of a risk given his injury history with the Colorado Rockies. As a member of the Blue Jays, Tulo would slash .250/.313/.414 with 36 home runs, 122 RBI, and a .727 OPS through three seasons and 238 games. The injury bug would haunt him Toronto, as he made several trips to the injured list and even missed the entire 2018 season due to bone spurs in both of his heels.

The Blue Jays decided to DFA him just prior to the 2019 season, eating roughly $38 million dollars in salary with his player option being bought out in 2 x $2 million dollar installments on July 1, 2021, and 2022. Additionally, $5 million from the 2019 season is deferred and gains three percent interest, payable on January 1st in equal installments from 2025-2034, meaning the Blue Jays will still be paying him, albeit smaller amounts, for quite some time.

Next. Stripling has completely reinvented his approach on the mound. dark

After being released by the Blue Jays, Tulowitzki gave it one last hurrah with the New York Yankees before calling it a career early into the 2019 season. Since retiring, Tulowitzki has taken up a coaching position with the University of Texas baseball team as an assistant coach.