Blue Jays: Consider bringing back David Phelps for the bullpen
The Toronto Blue Jays bullpen finished the 2022 season with a collective 3.77 ERA, ranking 13th across the MLB. There were high points and low points with the relief corps this year, and in the playoffs, the Jays bullpen struggled in the second game of the AL Wild Card, letting the Mariners climb back from an 8-1 deficit to win 10-9, eliminating Toronto from the postseason.
This was obviously disappointing, and looking ahead to the 2023 season, the Blue Jays bullpen will likely have a lot of returning faces. Adam Cimber, Yimi Garcia, Jordan Romano, Tim Mayza, Zach Pop, and Trevor Richards are all under team control for next year, while Anthony Bass has a $3 million option that the Jays will 100% be picking up. This leaves limited spots for any bullpen additions this offseason, but this was already a tricky task with the Jays inching very close to the luxury tax heading into the 2023 campaign.
That being said, there is only one reliever heading to free agency this year from the Blue Jays in right-hander David Phelps.
The veteran hurler returned to the Blue Jays on a one-year deal after tearing his lat muscle during the 2021 season, ending what was beginning to be a productive year for the Missouri product. While he could not have had the surgery and retired off into the sunset, Phelps wanted to get back on the mound and a deal with the Blue Jays came together in the offseason. With the bullpen issues the Jays had to deal with two seasons ago, with the likes of Tyler Chatwood and Rafael Dolis impacting games, having Phelps in the mix could have been a real difference-maker.
This year, Phelps put forward a pretty impressive campaign, authoring a 2.83 ERA through 65 appearances and 63.2 innings of work. Phelps also struck out 64 batters to post a clean 9.0 K/9 but did struggle with the free passes, pitching to a 4.4 BB/9 on the year. This is a bit concerning, but considering he only allowed 22 runs (20 earned) and was used in high-leverage situations and produced pretty solid results, it would only make sense that the Blue Jays consider bringing him back for next season.
This obviously isn’t the flashiest signing considering the Jays’ bullpen blowup that occurred on Saturday (Phelps didn’t pitch in either game) but considering the number of injuries a club goes through in a year, bringing back a reliable arm like David Phelps in a middle relief role might bode better than betting on fringe relievers within the system.
If the Jays are able to bring the veteran reliever back into the fold for a similar contract he signed this past year (one year at $2.75 million), the deal seems like a no-brainer and still allows the front office to go and pursue another high leverage arm or two for the relief corps.