*All players on this slide are on the 40-man roster*
Trent Thornton – RHP
Two years removed from leading the Blue Jays in innings pitched during the 2019 campaign, Trent Thornton rode the options bus numerous times last season given the injury troubles that fell on the Major League roster as well as the midseason acquisitions of Trevor Richards and Adam Cimber cutting into roster space. Thornton still suited up in 37 games for the Jays and would pitch to a 4.78 ERA through 49.0 innings while crafting a 9.6 K/9 and a 2.9 BB/9 as a reliever and spot starter.
Given his stamina and professional career as a member of the rotation, Thornton could be a useful arm in the bullpen as a long-man or spot starter considering the club may look to give Hyun Jin Ryu additional days of rest in 2022. The issue is that if Ross Stripling or Nate Pearson ends up in the bullpen, it would be hard to argue starting Thornton over one of those two options.
A strong Spring Training as a middle relief option could put his name into the mix but he will be in tough competition, making one wonder if the club will send him back down to AAA to keep him stretched out as a starter. Another wild card amongst the internal options as he heads into his first year of arbitration.
Kirby Snead – LHP
Beginning last season in AAA, southpaw Kirby Snead was an absolute force in the Bisons bullpen for the entire 2021 campaign. The former 10th round pick back in 2016 made 36 appearances on the year and would finish with a 1.58 ERA with 57 strikeouts, 16 walks, and a 0.925 WHIP with four saves and was one of the top relievers amongst the Bisons relievers.
When Jacob Barnes was designated for assignment in late July, the Blue Jays decided to select Snead’s contract and he would ride the options bus for the rest of the season. Overall, the Florida product would make seven appearances with the Blue Jays and would amass a 2.35 ERA with seven strikeouts and only two earned runs through 7.2 innings of work.
I will admit that I was hoping the Jays would have called Snead up before some of the other internal options called before him last season just because he was pitching so well in AAA. With Tim Mayza the only real guaranteed southpaw lock in the Jays bullpen for 2022, Snead could work his way onto the Opening Day roster if he can continue his strong 2021 campaign early into next season. With Bryan Baker and Hobie Harris now gone via minor league free agency, he could start the year as the Bisons closer and be one of the first names called upon if injuries or poor performance hamper the Jays relief corps if the club elects to bring two other options up first.