Give the bullpen what it really needs
If you read about the Blue Jays bullpen on social media over the last few months, you’d think they were a dumpster fire for the entire season. In reality, they were only really bad for a stretch in the middle of the year, but overall the relief corps in Toronto wasn’t a major weakness overall, especially after they brought in Anthony Bass and Zach Pop to reinforce the group.
As the Jays look ahead to 2023, there’s a good chance that the bullpen mix looks pretty similar. For the sake of a visual, here’s what they have for returning arms at the moment.
1- Jordan Romano
2- Anthony Bass
3- Yimi Garcia
4- Tim Mayza
5- Adam Cimber
6- Trevor Richards
7- Zach Pop
Other possibilities: Kikuchi, White, Pearson, Julian Merryweather, Matt Gage, etc
As you can see, there are probably enough in-house options to at least get the 2023 season started, especially if they look at re-signing their effective veteran in David Phelps, who might not be that expensive to retain. Regardless of whether they bring Phelps back or not, there’s a certain type of reliever they really need to add, and that’s one that can bring more “swing and miss”.
This might be something that the Blue Jays ultimately pursue a little closer to next summer’s trade deadline, especially with an area as volatile as the bullpen. Patience is often a virtue when it comes to bullpen value, and Atkins and his team have been good at finding effective arms for a relatively cheap coster. That said, after watching the Blue Jays in this year’s playoffs, it’s clear that the time for bargain shopping should be over.
In order to get over the hump and truly join the elite teams in Major League Baseball, they need a strong bullpen, and one that can shut down even the top lineups when the pressure is at its highest. Jordan Romano again proved that he can be that kind of closer/late-inning reliever this year, and others like Garcia and Bass are capable as well, but it’s just enough quite enough.
I’m not sure whether the Blue Jays will be patient when it comes to looking for a difference maker for the bullpen, or if it’ll be a priority right away, but I’d certainly vote for the latter, especially with the quality depth they already have in place. They’ve got the quantity, and now it’s time to find true quality and move to the next tier in baseball.