The Spring Training finish line is finally in sight, and now the Blue Jays have some decisions to make regarding their relievers. The team has a limited amount of spots in that major league bullpen and a whole lot of potential arms trying to get them.
Let’s try to make sense of it all.
Unless somebody gets hurt, these guys will be definitely coming north with the team in two weeks.
LHP Aaron Loup
So now we’re down to two spots. Eight-man pen? Probably not. Also, is Danny Barnes a lock? He did appear in 60 games last season and pitched effectively, but with the quality amount of right handed arms the Blue Jays currently have at camp, I think he may have been pushed to the bubble. Let’s just keep him there for the time being. He can be optioned, however.
Spring stats in italics
These players can be optioned to the minors, which isn’t a bad thing. You’d much rather option a player now and have the luxury to call on him later if somebody goes down/underperforms.
LHP Tim Mayza
6 IP, 3.00 ERA, 6K, 0BB
LHP Matt Dermody
5 IP, 9.00 ERA, 3K, 1BB
10 IP, 8.10 ERA, 12K, 2BB
6.1 IP, 1.42 ERA, 4K, 1BB
I still put Biagini on this list because he’s still technically a reliever, but it sounds like the Blue Jays want to stretch him out, which works due to the lack of depth at SP and the amount that they have in the pen right now.
Not listed here is Carlos Ramirez, who’s currently dealing with a sore shoulder and hasn’t pitched this month.
Not on 40-Man roster
If the Blue Jays want one of these guys in their Major League ‘pen next month, a corresponding move will have to be made. They currently have no room on their 40-man, so somebody on it will have to be designated for assignment.
4.2 IP, 1.93 ERA, 7K, 2BB
2 IP, 0.00 ERA, 4K, 0BB
5 IP, 3.60 ERA, 8K, 1BB
7 IP, 0.00 ERA, 8K, 1BB
LHP Craig Breslow (can opt-out of his contract on March 22nd)
5.1IP, 8.44 ERA, 4K, 2BB
6IP, 0.00 ERA, 6K, 1BB
RHP Jake Petricka is still recovering from offseason elbow surgery
Here’s where things get interesting. Axford has been throwing in the mid-90s all spring and has struck out seven hitters over 4.2 innings, impressing John Gibbons so much that he flat out said this:
John Axford is due to pitch for #BlueJays today, and he’s probably going to make the Opening Day roster as a non-roster invitee. John Gibbons: “I’ve seen, to this point, everything I need to see . . . He should be pitching in the big leagues, no doubt.” @MLB @MLBNetwork
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) March 13, 2018
If the team really doesn’t know when Tulowitzki will be back, and it sure seems like that, they can place Tulo on the 60-man DL to free up that spot for Axford temporarily.
So it looks like we’re now down to two spots, assuming Gibbons doesn’t go to the eight-man pen route. Now I’m not trying to predict any of this, just make sense of it all. They’re at five guys in the bullpen right now, assuming that Axford’s a lock now.
The decision on the second lefty is simple: you’re going to go with either Mayza, Breslow, or Dermody, and at this point, I don’t see a reason to make room on the 40-man and potentially lose an asset for Breslow when you already have Mayza and Dermody there.
So now we’re at likely one spot for Danny Barnes, Tyler Clippard, Luis Santos, or – dare I say – Deck McGuire. This still kinda seems like Barnes’ job to lose, mostly because the other three aren’t on the 40-man. If Carlos Ramirez is going to take some time recovering from that shoulder issue, the 60-day DL might be an attractive option if a guy like Clippard, McGuire, or Santos usurps Danny Barnes in the mind of the Jays.
Now, let me think out loud…
If Ramirez doesn’t go on the DL and the Blue Jays go with Clippard, who would you guys want to see DFAed? Two weeks ago, Maile would have seemed like a good candidate, but the team is starting the season with him. Not to think too far ahead, but if Jansen starts the season hot in Buffalo, that could be the corresponding move when Tulo is finally healthy.
What about Dalton Pompey?
Axford and Clippard making the team means somebody has to go, even if you DL Tulowitzki. My first thought was Dermody, but he could be insurance for the team if Mayza gets hurt and Breslow opts out. 40-man spots are valuable, and I’m not sure that a team with outfield depth needs to save one for an oft-injured prospect entering his age 25 year. Pompey was the future center fielder back in 2015, but now we have Anthony Alford and Teoscar Hernandez waiting in the wings.
What do you guys think? Barnes, Clippard, Santos, or McGuire?