The Blue Jays bolstered their pitching depth today by signing left-handed pitcher Brett Oberlholtzer to a minor league contract. Oberholtzer, the former Astro, Phillie, and Angel, will be given an invite to spring training to possibly duke it out for a spot in the Jays’ bullpen, but will more than likely serve as pitching depth for the organization with Triple-A Buffalo.
#BlueJays signed LHP Brett Oberholtzer to a Minor League deal with an invite to Spring Training.
— Gregor Chisholm (@gregorMLB) December 7, 2016
— Ben Wagner (@benwag247) December 7, 2016
Oberholtzer has spent most of his career bouncing around the league. He was traded from the Atlanta Braves to the Houston Astros back in 2011 as part of a deal for Michael Bourn, then, last winter, he was a part of the trade that sent Vince Velasquez and Mark Appel to the Philadelphia Phillies for Ken Giles. His career in Philly didn’t last long, as Oberholtzer was claimed off waivers by the Anaheim Angels back in August.
Between the Phillies and Angles, Oberholtzer tossed 70 1/3 innings last season, putting up a forgettable 5.89 ERA and 1.62 WHIP. Most of those innings were spent as a reliever, but his peripheral numbers didn’t indicate anything spectacular, either, as Oberholtzer only managed 7.2 strikeouts per nine innings while surrendering 10.9 hits and 3.6 walks per nine.
His best time in the majors came back in 2013 as a starter with Houston. That season, he made 10 starts and had excellent results, posting a 2.24 ERA while keeping opponents to a .224/.263/.347 slash line. The wheels fell off pretty quickly, though, as Oberholtzer’s numbers declined the following two seasons, and he was ultimately relegated to a swing role between Houston and Triple-A.
— Mike Bolsinger (@MBolsinger) December 7, 2016
I would imagine that Oberholtzer will be used in Buffalo as a starter, because the Jays don’t have much starting depth behind the already-set five of Aaron Sanchez, Marcus Stroman, Marco Estrada, J.A. Happ, and Francisco Liriano who are pencilled into their rotation. Beyond them, the next option is immidiately Mike Bolsigner, who, like Oberholtzer, will compete for a role in the team’s bullpen.
And that’s that! This is a minor league deal, so there isn’t much risk associated with the commitment. There’s a good chance Oberholtzer won’t have any impact on the Blue Jays this season, but hell, you never know. There’s always a chance you can catch lightning in a bottle, like we’ve seen in the past two seasons with Liam Hendriks and Joe Biagini, and pitching depth is never a bad thing to have.