Photo Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Trying to Make Sense of the Blue Jays Bullpen Logjam

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.

The Locks

Unless somebody gets hurt, these guys will be definitely coming north with the team in two weeks.

Roberto Osuna

Seung-hwan Oh

Ryan Tepera

LHP Aaron Loup

Danny Barnes

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

Joe Biagini

10 IP, 8.10 ERA, 12K, 2BB

Taylor Guerrieri

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.

John Axford

4.2 IP, 1.93 ERA, 7K, 2BB

Tyler Clippard

2 IP, 0.00 ERA, 4K, 0BB

Al Alburquerque

5 IP, 3.60 ERA, 8K, 1BB

Deck McGuire

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

Luis Santos

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:

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?

  • Ballboy

    There’s a report on MLBTR indicating that the Rays might be trading Dan Jennings. Maybe we could get him by trading one of our surplus OF. Pearce maybe. The lefty could help us.

  • Junkballs

    Question with regards to the 60-day DL: how does it work when they start the season on the DL? Does it always start at 0 on the first day of the season?
    Tulo hasn’t played since 1996 (approximation) so you can make the case that he’s **still** on the 60 day DL from last year and is only returning to that list, meaning you wouldn’t have to wait two months to activate him.
    For others who get hurt during the offseason/spring training can the 60 days start counting before the season?

    • Mule or etc...

      Teams can start a player’s DL stint retroactive to the day after the last day they played.

      Since Tulo went on the 10-day DL on July 29th and didn’t play again the Jays can place Tulo on the 60-DL to start the season, free up a roster spot, and Tulo would immediately be able to come off the DL as 60 days from his original injury would have passed.

      Since Tulo

    • Dexxter

      Sorry. Started to say that…. checked to see if Reese McGuire was on the 40 man (he isn’t)… then accidentally posted this. With McGuire not on the 40 man DFAing Maile obviously doesn’t help.

      It would have to be Smith Jr or Pompey. Whoever you like least. With 6 OFs ahead of them… and then not being really young anymore I think this makes sense.

  • Dexxter

    What happens to McGuire, Clippard and Axford if they don’t get out on the 40 man to start the season?

    Are they released, waivers or can the Jays keep them in AAA?

    • Mule or etc...

      Clippard and Axford have enough service time they can refuse a minor league assignment if they are DFA’d and clear waivers. If they stay or not will depend on if they think they have a better shot in another org. McGuire, if he clears, can’t refuse and become a FA.

      • Mule or etc...

        Sorry, three beers deep. None of them have to be DFA’d or clear waivers because they are on minor league deals but Clippard and Axford can refuse a minor league assignment and become a FA due to their service time.

  • MikeB

    Isn’t Clippard a reverse-splits guy, mitigating the need for a 2nd lefty? Maybe they take/audition him at the start of the season and see how he does, meaning both Mayza and Dermody start the season in the minors. It’s a bit of a reach but an option, no?

  • Andy Z

    I think they are taking Axford and Clippard north to go with them to start.

    I think part of the DFA decision has to include the likelihood of the player getting picked off waivers by another club or sliding through and then being assigned. I don’t think Pompey makes it through waivers. Another team will gamble on his speed and D profile and will hope he pans out.

    Dermody and Smith, on the other hand, don’t have the same appeal or upside for another club. Dermody has been shelled at the MLB level and in spring training, and Smith is really a AAAA player who is behind Alford, Pompey, Hernandez, and possibly Fields and others at this point. So, if they need two players to DFA, I imagine they are the top picks.

    The only other possibility is a trade of one of their OF (Pearce, Smith, Pompey?) for someone who doesn’t have to be placed on the 40-man. Probably unlikely unless Smith/Pompey is DFA’d and then dealt to avoid a claim, but it could happen.

    • BennyE

      I do not understand how Gift Ngoepe isnt talked about as the DFA guy. He isnt very good, Ryan Goins and Darwin Barney are better Hitters then him. He hasnt even hit well in the minors. I dont see the value he brings at all. I am not a Urenra Fan, but i would much rather have him as a a back-up to start the year till Tulo is ready. Tulo, Diaz, Urena, Gurriel,(By mid-point of season) Solarte (in a Pinch)

  • Knuckle Balls

    I understand going with a veteran, but what about Deck McGuire. Of all the candidates has been the better of the bunch with innings pitched and overall performance. Does Deck have options – Also I though when you sign a minor league contract you either make it on the team or you go to minors unless you have an opt out clause like one of the vets

      • Mule or etc...

        Doesn’t have to clear waivers. On a minor league deal. Get this shit right Mule, there are lives at stake. He can’t refuse a minor league assignment.