In a massive announcement from the team itself, the Toronto Blue Jays have made the decision to option starting pitcher Alek Manoah to the Florida Complex League.
Here is the complete list of moving parts, as announced by the team on Twitter:
- Chris Bassitt reinstated from the paternity list
- Santiago Espinal reinstated from the 10-day injured list
- Bowden Francis had his contract selected from Triple-A
- Jay Jackson optioned to Triple-A
- Ernie Clement optioned to Triple-A
- Zach Thompson designated for assignment
Holy cow, are you still keeping up?
Starting with Manoah, this was the likeliest outcome after he (to put it nicely) stumbled out of the gates a bit to kick off the 2023 campaign. The right-hander has looked nothing like the 2022 version of himself that we saw make the All-Star team and finish third in the AL Cy Young Award race.
Through 13 starts this year, the 25-year-old has a 1-7 record with a 6.36 ERA, 6.52 FIP and an ERA+ of just 65. He will now report to the FCL, whose season just started on Monday. There, he will work in a much lower-stress environment as he aims to rebuild some value and work his way back up to be the pitcher he was last season. From all of us at Jays Journal, we hope he takes all the time he needs to turn things around and get everything in check, including his mental health.
The additions of Bassitt and Espinal to the active roster will be huge for the Blue Jays, even though both were gone for such a short amount of time. Bassitt, who has turned himself into one of the best pitchers on the Blue Jays' staff, returns from the paternity list a few days after him and his wife Jessica welcomed their second child into the world, while Espinal is working his way back from right hamstring inflammation.
Jackson and Clement are both players who have excelled in the Blue Jays organization at different times this season. Jackson, 35, is fresh off of an outing in which he went 2.2 innings in relief of Manoah after his dreadful start against the Astros. He will surely be back up in the big leagues this season, as he has proven to be a reliable arm out of the bullpen. Clement is a utilityman who lit up Triple-A pitching prior to his promotion and managed to get into a few games for the big league club before being optioned back down to Buffalo. Like Jackson, he will absolutely be back.
In Francis, the Blue Jays are selecting the contract of and recalling one of their only available reinforcements in the minor leagues. The 27-year-old right-hander has been putting on a clinic in the minors this season, making five starts split between two levels. In that time, he has gone only 18.2 innings, which suggests that he is being used as more of a bulk reliever in the big leagues than a traditional starting pitcher. Francis' 12.5 SO/9 will play nicely in the big leagues and he has put up an impressive 2.89 ERA in A-Ball and Triple-A this year.
Thompson, 29, was another one of the few big league-ready players down in Buffalo. However, he has struggled mightily to get going so far this season. In 11 starts and 47 innings, the 6-foot-9 hurler has gone 2-4 with a 6.89 ERA thanks to a whopping 36 earned runs on 11 home runs already surrendered. His value is at an all-time low right now, so the odds of him passing through waivers and remaining in Buffalo feel pretty high right now.
So there you have it, a massive organizational shakeup for the Blue Jays. At long last, Alek Manoah has been optioned to the minor leagues while Chris Bassitt has returned from the injured list. Now we all need to hold our collective breaths while we wait and see how the Manoah Experiment works out.