The Toronto Blue Jays are just weeks away from starting their 2020 season at home against the Boston Red Sox. But, their team is still not set and with an opening in the bullpen, so could there be a late spring training signing like last season when they signed Daniel Hudson?
Toronto signed Hudson on March 25 just three days before the season kicked off on March 28. Hudson had success for the club pitching in 48 innings with a 3.00 ERA and a 1.271 WHIP. He was a valuable part of the back end of the Blue Jays bullpen and was traded in July at the deadline for pitching prospect Kyle Johnston who is now Toronto’s 29th best prospect. The right-hander projects as an MLB reliever where we could see him in the big leagues in the next year or two.
Now, with several MLB relievers still searching for homes could Ross Atkins look to sign another veteran and flip them at the deadline as they did with Daniel Hudson? There are options for that to happen and something the Blue Jays should look to do as they continue to stockpile prospects and improve their system.
One name that made sense for that role was Colin McHugh, but the pitcher just signed with the Boston Red Sox. Now, here are a few options who could fit the Hudson role of last season for Toronto.
Tony Cingrani, LHP
Tony Cingrani has been a reliable reliever since he made his big league debut back in 2012 as a 22-year-old.
Last season, he did not pitch due to injury which is why he is still available. In 2018, he pitched to a 4.76 ERA but looking deeper into the stats he had a 28.4% chase rate and a 31.5% whiff rate, showing he can still make batters miss.
Cingrani makes sense in this spot given he is a lefty as the Blue Jays are only projected to have one left-hander out of the bullpen. And, if he can back to his regular form he would be a trade candidate at the deadline just like Hudson was.
Xavier Cedeno, LHP
Xavier Cedeno, like Cingrani, provides Toronto with another left-hander in the bullpen, and he’s also someone that was injured in 2019. He only pitched two innings last season which has limited his interest in free agency, but throughout his career, he has proven to be a solid back of the bullpen arm.
Cedeno has been injury-prone, which could be a worry, but when he is healthy, as evident by his 2018 and 2016 season, he pitches very well. In 2018 he had a 2.43 ERA with a 1.260 WHIP, while in 2016 he had a 3.70 ERA with a 1.185 WHIP.
With the Blue Jays, Cedeno would be a low-risk high reward player as if he sustains another injury, it won’t cost Toronto much in salary. But, if he can get back to his 2018 self, he’d be a high leverage reliever and one the Blue Jays could look to move at the deadline.
Danny Salazar, RHP
Danny Salazar is a former All-Star, yet he’s still on the market due to injuries.
The right-hander has been a starter throughout his career, but last season only pitched in one game before being shut down for the year. The 30-year-old was an All-Star in 2016, his second-last full season in the MLB. In Cleveland, he looked like a front of the rotation piece, but injuries have derailed his career.
Yet, it makes sense to sign in Toronto given the front office is familiar with him and they could look to convert him to a reliever and see if that limits the injuries. If he can get back to form, the Blue Jays all the sudden have an All-Star pitcher they can look to move at the deadline to a contending team.
Arodys Vizcaino, RHP
Arodys Vizcaino is still young at 29-years-old and has been a valuable member of the Atlanta Braves bullpen for years now.
Last season, the right-hander dealt with injuries but when he has been healthy he has had four sub-three ERA seasons out of the four complete seasons he has played.
Toronto could use a reliable arm that can save games when Ken Giles can’t pitch, and Vizcaino can do just that. His career-high in saves is 16, which happened in his last healthy season. So, like most on this list, it is a low-risk high-reward signing the Blue Jays can make.
Aaron Sanchez, RHP
The final name on this list is the ultimate low-risk high-reward signing and that is bringing back Aaron Sanchez.
Toronto fans have seen Sanchez be one of the best pitchers in baseball, yet he has been dealing with some nagging injuries that have limited his play. After being traded to the Houston Astros and then being non-tendered the once-promising prospect is still a free agent.
For the Blue Jays, Sanchez could return to the bullpen and be a flamethrower where if he can get back to his old self, Toronto may very well have their new closer after Ken Giles is presumably traded this season.