Blue Jays: Was designating Joel Payamps for assignment the right call?

BUFFALO, NY - JUNE 26: Joel Payamps #54 of the Toronto Blue Jays closes out the game against the Baltimore Orioles at Sahlen Field on June 26, 2021 in Buffalo, New York. The Blue Jays defeated the Orioles 12-4. (Photo by Kevin Hoffman/Getty Images)
BUFFALO, NY - JUNE 26: Joel Payamps #54 of the Toronto Blue Jays closes out the game against the Baltimore Orioles at Sahlen Field on June 26, 2021 in Buffalo, New York. The Blue Jays defeated the Orioles 12-4. (Photo by Kevin Hoffman/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Blue Jays activated southpaw Ryan Borucki from the 60-day injured list on Friday, with the organization designating right-hander Joel Payamps for assignment in order to create room on both the active and 40-man roster.

Having Borucki back in the bullpen will be a boost for the relief corps that features Tim Mayza, Anthony Kay, and Tayler Saucedo from the left side of the mound. The big question with his reinstatement is why the Blue Jays decided that the best option was to designate Payamps for assignment when the Dominican product is having a solid season in the bullpen.

Payamps has performed well with the Blue Jays, posting a 2.70 ERA with 22 strikeouts and a 1.067 WHIP through 30.0 innings since being picked up during the off-season. He has been moved between the alternate training site/minors on multiple occasions with all the different injuries to the pitching corps and he most recently was moved back to AAA in late June when Adam Cimber and Corey Dickerson joined the Blue Jays.

The Toronto Blue Jays activated Ryan Borucki from the injured list and designated right-hander Joel Payamps for assignment, a move that seems like a mistake considering how well Payamps has been pitching this season for the Jays.

That move alone was difficult to understand, as he was one of the Blue Jays’ more effective relievers but was a victim of the options game, in that he could be sent down to the minors without being exposed to the waiver wire. What doesn’t make sense is why he was designated for assignment when numerous other options could have been DFA’d instead of him to make room for Borucki on the 40-man roster.

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One candidate who could have been DFA’d instead is Jacob Barnes, who has just struggled with both the Mets and the Blue Jays this season when compared to Payamps. Barnes currently sports a 5.81 ERA on the season and a 4.70 ERA since joining the Blue Jays, surrendering four earned runs through 7.2 innings to the tune of a 1.30 WHIP.

Another potential DFA candidate is right-hander Tyler Chatwood. He did bounce back with a somewhat solid June, but the biggest issue is that he is very inconsistent on the mound and does not seem capable of handling high-pressure situations. He is currently throwing to a 5.46 ERA on the season and his last outing saw him give up two earned runs through 0.2 innings. The Blue Jays may want to consider cutting their losses and eating the rest of Chatwood’s contract.

The Rafael Dolis experiment is also starting to wane, in that he has not been able to replicate the success fans saw last year during the shortened season. This year, Dolis has missed time on the injured list and has struggled as of late, sporting a 5.79 ERA through 23.1 innings with 18 walks, 30 strikeouts, and a 1.59 WHIP.

Overall, I just don’t really understand why the Blue Jays decided to DFA Joel Payamps when he:

  1. Had a minor league option (as per Fangraphs)
  2. Was pitching well with the Blue Jays
  3. Was navigating between the alternate training site/AAA and the major leagues and still performing well
  4. Was a hot commodity earlier this season when the Blue Jays and Boston Red Sox kept designating him and then picking him back up

With the bullpen being the weakest area on the roster, it just seems odd that the front office would decide to risk losing Payamps when other pitchers like Chatwood, Dolis, and Barnes just haven’t performed nearly as well. One wonders if he was a cancer in the locker room or just not getting along with the rest of the roster, something that one doesn’t see on the stats sheet but can have detrimental impacts if left untouched.

There is a good chance that the right-hander could be picked up by another club if exposed to the waiver wire unless the Blue Jays trade him, getting something in return instead of losing him for nothing if another team picks him up. This could be why the team decided to DFA him, as he will be moved before the trade deadline, and having him off the 40-man allows Borucki to return without sacrificing another arm.

I highly doubt that he will pass through the waiver wire and go unclaimed if he does not get traded but I thought the same thing about Reese McGuire earlier this year and he made it through.

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It will be interesting to see what will happen over the next week and if the Blue Jays will trade Joel Payamps or risk losing him on the waiver wire.

While he isn’t the most flashy name in the organization, he was pitching well when he was with the Toronto Blue Jays and I think it was a mistake to designate him over other struggling pitchers in the bullpen.

Only time will tell when it comes to whether this decision will backfire or if Ross Atkins improves the relief corps before the trade deadline and Payamps is replaced with an established arm that solidifies the bullpen.