Blue Jays: 3 relief pitchers the Jays should be looking at in free agency

 Eric Treuden
New York Yankees v Philadelphia Phillies
New York Yankees v Philadelphia Phillies / Rich Schultz/GettyImages
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RHP Alex Reyes

I could keep going with the left-handers (sorry Brad Hand and Will Smith) but Alex Reyes is too good to pass up.

Reyes, a former highly-touted prospect of the St. Louis Cardinals, is yet another one of those stories about a young pitcher who shows so much promise but just cannot for the life of him stay healthy.

Since his big league debut in 2016, Reyes has been placed on the injured list five separate times. Tommy John surgery kept him out of action in 2017, a season-ending LAT strain in 2018, a season-ending right shoulder injury came up in 2020 and another shoulder injury kept him out of the entire 2022 campaign.

To this point, he has only pitched in 145 innings across parts of five seasons. My argument for the Jays interest isn't going in the right direction so let me tell you what he does well.

When Reyes is on, he has shown that he is an arm capable of truly elite things. In 2021, his first and only full season in the majors, the Cardinals decided to give up on him as a starting pitcher and instead use him in a brand new role: closer.

In 69 games that year, he went 10-8 with a 3.24 ERA, 122 ERA+ and 11.8 SO/9 to go along with 29 saves. He made his first-career All-Star Game appearance as well and (finally) gave the fans the long-awaited breakout season that everyone knew was coming.

When he's on, his fourseam fastball, the primary pitch in his repertoire, comfortably sits at 97mph and even reaches triple digits. He pairs that with a wiepout slider that often makes the opposition look silly in the batter's box.

While the inning count isn't quite there over the course of Reyes' career, there's something to be said about the fact that batters have hit a combined .189 off of him, including just .176 in his breakout 2021 performance.

As I did with Matt Moore on the previous slide, let me show you some of the numbers for Reyes in his elite 2021 season to show how he stacked up against the competition.

Stat

Percentile

Avg Exit Velocity

82nd

HardHit%

81st

Barrel%

91st

Whiff%

95th

Something to keep in mind is that the Cardinals chose to non-tender Reyes instead of paying him just $3M in arbitration. Now that he has hit the free agent market, there's little doubt in my mind that his new contract will be even lower than his arb number for St. Louis. For the Jays, this should be a no-brainer signing.

Next. Which free agent power bats could fit on the Jays bench?. dark

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