One of the obvious goals for the Blue Jays' offseason was to improve the bullpen, and ideally to add the kind of high leverage relievers that could make a difference in the playoffs.
It was a bit of an unexpected move, but Ross Atkins has already pulled the trigger on his first trade of the offseason by acquiring two pitchers from the Seattle Mariners in exchange for popular former All-star in Teoscar Hernandez. It was a move that came with mixed reviews, but there's no doubt that Erik Swanson and his 1.68 ERA over 57 appearances last year will make the bullpen better. The other arm they acquired is Adam Macko, a left-handed starter that the Jays have apparently had their eyes on for a while. He may not debut until 2024, but he could potentially help the team late next season as well.
After making that swap with the Seattle Mariners, I can't help but wonder if the Blue Jays are done addressing the bullpen, at least for now. That may not be what fans want to hear after going into the winter hoping to see some major additions to the bullpen, but while Swanson isn't a household name, he definitely has a lot of value and the potential to be exactly what they need.
With Swanson's addition, the bullpen depth chart could look something like this:
1- Jordan Romano
3- Yimi Garcia
4- Anthony Bass
5- Tim Mayza
6- Adam Cimber
7- Zach Pop
8- Trevor Richards
9- Julian Merryweather
10- Nate Pearson
11- Matt Gage
12- Trent Thornton
It's also possible that one or both of Yusei Kikuchi and/or Mitch White could join the bullpen ranks, and we could see youngsters like Hagen Danner or Yosver Zulueta factor into the equation at some point as well. Even if the 2022 campaign ended in bitter disappointment, there's a lot of talent already in the organization, and a lot of potential here.
Still, should the Blue Jays look to add another weapon to the group? I think that's a legitimate debate depending on the opportunities that exist both through free agency and the trade market, but I'm not so sure that they'll make that a top priority from here. In fact, given the lack of minor league options that exist among their pitching staff, I wouldn't be surprised if they traded a reliever or two before next season begins.
As much as I'd love to see the Blue Jays add another southpaw, or a swing and miss arm that throws triple digits, I expect that they'll enter next season evaluating the options that they already have. In a perfect world, Pearson could stay healthy and be that hard-throwing arm to add to the mix, and the youngsters have that kind of potential as well. Add that to the strong group of veterans in place, and there's real potential that this group could be near elite already.
That doesn't mean that they can't or won't add to the bullpen at some point for next season, but it wouldn't shock me at all if they waited a few months, or even up until the trade deadline to add a true difference maker. Provided they still pursue rotation upgrades and at least one more outfielder to help replace Hernandez's production, I have no issue with the Blue Jays entering next season with the group that's already in place.