Blue Jays: Strikeout type free agent relievers to pursue this offseason

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - SEPTEMBER 11: Taylor Rogers #25 of the Milwaukee Brewers throws a pitch during the eighth inning against the Cincinnati Reds at American Family Field on September 11, 2022 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - SEPTEMBER 11: Taylor Rogers #25 of the Milwaukee Brewers throws a pitch during the eighth inning against the Cincinnati Reds at American Family Field on September 11, 2022 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /
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The Toronto Blue Jays bullpen’s collective 3.77 ERA was ranked 13th across the league by the season’s end, sitting in the middle of the pack. Only two other teams who made the postseason had a worse bullpen ERA, the Padres at 14th (3.83 ERA) and the World Series bound Philadelphia Phillies at 23rd (4.27 ERA).

While the Jays’ bullpen had a strong finish to the year, they struggled in the second game of the Wild Card, blowing an 8-1 lead against the Seattle Mariners that saw the Jays head home early.

Looking ahead to 2023, a lot of the relief corps is scheduled to come back as only David Phelps and Anthony Bass (club option at $3 million) are the only relievers with the potential to reach free agency. The remaining group of Jordan Romano, Tim Mayza, Zach Pop, Trevor Richards, Adam Cimber, and Yimi García are all under contract control and I would bet a lot of money the Jays will bring back Bass, meaning there really is only one or two spots potentially open if the Blue Jays are looking to add at the free agent deadline. Pop is the only one with Minor League options available as well.

This free agent class boasts some strong strikeout-type relievers the Blue Jays will be looking for this offseason.

Overall, the one thing Ross Atkins and co. needs to do is add a swing-and-miss type reliever at the deadline, one that preferably has the ability to light up the radar gun, as Romano is really the only blow-away type bullpen arm the club has. Pop can hit the upper 90s with his sinker but it doesn’t really generate strikeouts (a 15.9% strikeout rate and a 56.1% groundball rate). The Jays also have Julian Merryweather but at this point, he is not considered the most reliable arm.

Internally, Yosver Zulueta could be an option and might be called upon midway through the year should injuries arise, generating a 13.6 K/9 on the year split between four different levels. Hayden Juenger is also another bullpen option next year, hitting the mid-90s with his fastball and generating a 10.2 K/9 through 88.2 innings pitched between New Hampshire and Buffalo this season.

Factor in that Ross Stripling is heading to free agency and the Blue Jays will be under some payroll constraints should they have to stay under the luxury tax, there will be some interesting decisions needing to be made by the Blue Jays’ front office.

If management is keen on adding a reliever or two, here are some names that can throw hard but also generate strikeouts when needed.

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