For the Blue Jays, it's time to end the Mitch White experiment

Wasting a 26-man roster spot on a player because they are out of minor league options is not a legitimate reason to keep a player on a team with World Series aspirations. It’s time for Blue Jays GM Ross Atkins to admit his mistake, and move on from the failed Mitch White experiment.
Sep 28, 2022; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Mitch White (45) walks
Sep 28, 2022; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Mitch White (45) walks / Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

With the August 1st major league trade deadline fast approaching, Blue Jays general manger Ross Atkins says, “We need to make this team better in any possible way and not just rely on the guys that are here.” There’s definitely room for improvement, as evidenced by a 7-20 record against AL East opponents and a 29-34 record vs. teams >.500. But with a $253 million CBT payroll that will already trigger luxury taxes, how can Atkins improve this club with potential playoff difference makers?

One obvious way is addition through subtraction. Reliever Adam Cimber (7.40 ERA with only 12 strikeouts in 20.2 innings pitched) has already been transferred to the 60-day IL to clear a 40-man roster spot for Jordan Luplow, who had his contract selected and joined the 26-man roster on Wednesday.

Time to End the Mitch White Experiment

Another very obvious move would be to DFA Mitch White, whose Blue Jays career has been - to put it mildly - unsuccessful to date. Acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers at the trade deadline last year, White has pitched to a 7.30 ERA and 5.00 FIP in 12.1 innings with 7 walks and 13 strikeouts since being activated from a rehab assignment on June 9th when Antony Bass was DFA’d.

Hs disastrous appearance on Sunday, only recording two outs and walking three Arizona Diamondbacks in the ninth inning with a 7-2 lead, pretty much says it all. When the Blue Jays activate lefty Hyun Jin Ryu from the 60-day IL, they’ll have to remove someone from the 40-man roster and cut a pitcher because they can only have 13 arms on their 26-man roster.

For his Blue Jays’ tenure, White has an 0-5 record, 7.64 ERA and bWAR of -1.4 over 55.1 innings with a WHIP of 1.735, i.e. below replacement level. Manager John Schneider says they have no intention of using him as a starter. Wasting a 26-man roster spot on him simply because he’s out of minor league options is not a legitimate excuse on a team with deep postseason aspirations.

Nothing about White’s Statcast numbers suggest he can improve at age 28. He mixes an average 93.9 mph fastball with below average spin and extension (38.3% of his pitches) with an 88.3 mph slider (41.5% of his pitches). There’s not enough separation in velocity there to keep MLB hitters guessing, and as a result he’s walking 12.1% of batters faced. Worse still, an average exit velocity of 91.3 mph on batted balls, and a hard hit percentage of 42.1% are the worst metrics of his career.

It’s time to end the Mitch White experiment by designating him for assignment, as it appears unlikely any other team would want him in a trade. Atkins needs to admit his mistake and move on by acquiring a better reliever. Presumably he’s also learned from his mistakes in acquiring players without minor league options, like Derek Fisher and White.

So ‘Where To’ from Here?

At his press conference Wednesday, Ross Atkins said that he’s hoping to add a depth starter with an option or control (which eliminates pure rentals like Lucas Giolito, Jordan Montgomery and Jack Flaherty, and likely Marcus Stroman and Eduardo Rodríguez, who both have player options, as well), a right-handed bench bat, and one bullpen upgrade (preferably a left-handed reliever). It’s too bad the Texas Rangers already acquired lefty flamethrower Aroldis Chapman from Kansas City.

There are definitely players available who fit that bill. MLBTR listed the top 50 trade deadline candidates here, and hopefully the Blue Jays front office is perusing that shopping list! With the Jays again ready to buy ahead of the trade deadline, hopefully Atkins can add potential playoff difference makers this year along the lines of a José Berríos (acquired at the 2021 deadline), Taijuan Walker and Robby Ray (acquired at the 2020 deadline) and Whit Merrifield (added last year). Let’s just hope he doesn’t acquire this year’s version of Mitch White!