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News and Notes: The Blue Jays are interested in further bullpen depth, the outfield market could get moving, and more!
1 year ago
It’s been a hot minute, but we got a NEWSSSS AND NOTTEEEEES.
The Blue Jays haven’t been linked to any big leaguer (well, except for one), but it’ll be interesting to look around to see the other happenings in the league.
The Seattle Mariners signed right-handed batting outfielder A.J. Pollock:
It was announced on Saturday evening that the team that beat the Toronto Blue Jays in the 2022 playoffs had signed the 35-year-old.
Although the Blue Jays were never linked to the former Los Angeles Dodger, he definitely fits the need of a “right-handed bat that mashes left-handed pitching”. Against left-handed pitching in 2022, he slashed .286/.316/.619 with an absurd 11 home runs in 133 plate appearances.
His 2022 season was considered below-average, as he slashed .245/.292/.389 with 14 homers (three against righties) in 527 plate appearances, along with a 92 wRC+. However, Pollock finished the 2021 season slashing .297/.355/.536 with 21 homers in 422 plate appearances for a 137 wRC+. There’s still definitely a player in Pollock, and he likely will get more opportunities in Seattle.
The Jays still have a few options remaining to fit this hole, as Andrew McCutchen and Robbie Grossman are the two notable hole fillers. Moreover, Adam Duvall and Randal Grichuk are two names that could work, granted the last name didn’t go over well when I suggested it on Twitter.
The Philadelphia Phillies trade for Gregory Soto:
The Tigers and the Phillies made a sizeable trade Saturday afternoon, as Detroit sent closer Gregory Soto and Kody Clemens (yes, Roger Clemens’ son) to Philadelphia in exchange for Nick Maton, Matt Vierling, and Donny Sands.
There are a few notable aspects of this trade. First and foremost, the 27-year-old reliever (Soto) is a reliever with a hard fastball, as he averaged a career-high 98.8 mph. Despite the hard fastball, Soto only had a 22.8 K% in 2022, below his 23 K% career average (career-high is 29.6% in the plague year.) What’s more is that he hasn’t been able to show control in his career, as he had a 12.9 BB%, slightly below his career 13.1 BB%.
The other notable aspect of this trade is that the Phillies could be in the market for a right-handed batting outfielder, as they moved on from Vierling in this trade. Could they be looking at a reunion with Andrew McCutchen? Perhaps they’re looking at Robbie Grossman?
Either way, I’m thankful that the Jays stayed away from Soto, but let’s hope Philadelphia don’t crowd the market for a right-handed batter who mashes lefties.
The Blue Jays are interested in adding an outfield bat and further bullpen depth:
According to former general manager Jim Bowden, he’s hearedthat the Jays are looking for additional bullpen depth and a “complementary outfield bat”.
He didn’t expand further, but one has to assume that Andrew McCutchen, Jurickson Profar, and Robbie Grossman could be at the top of their list for the outfield bat. Heck, maybe they are even considering left-handed batting David Peralta.
As for the bullpen depth, there are still plenty of options remaining, such as Andrew Chafin (my guy), Matt Moore, and Zack Britton. The latter should not be confused with Jays prospect Zach Britton, who is Blue Jays Nation’s 23rd-best prospect heading into 2023.
Moreover, if the Jays have a chance at bringing in Trevor Rosenthal on a minor-league deal, they should absolutely pounce on that opportunity.
The Blue Jays are looking to bring in ANOTHER hard-throwing reliever?
According to Lewis (@JaysKid_RHP on Twitter, give him a follow), the Jays have apparently had recent conversations with right-handed pitcher Alex Reyes.
The 28-year-old posted a 3.24 ERA and a 4.40 FIP in 72.1 innings pitched in 69 (nice) games last season. His fastball sat around 97 mph, and he had a great 30 K%. Like many hard-throwing relievers, he had a high 16.4 BB%, which sits at 15.5% for his career.
For his career, he has a 2.86 ERA and a 3.87 FIP in 145 innings pitched, along with a 28.4 K% and 15.5 BB%, so there’s a little bit of a track record there.
I’d be interested in the 28-year-old on a minor league deal, as there is already a ton of competition for the eighth spot in the bullpen (article coming shortly). I guess we’ll see, but the Jays have been taking this “we need swing and miss” thing seriously.
The Blue Jays signed five players to minor league deals:
On Friday, the team’s Twitter account announced that five players had been signed to minor league deals with an invite to spring training.
There have already been a few articles written, this one about Julián Fernández, or this one about Casey Lawrence. Heck, I even wrote one about the actual announcement, which you can read here.
The most interesting signing to me is that of Paul Fry. In the last two seasons, he has posted a 6.12 ERA and a 4.05 FIP (the latter is solid), while striking out 26.8% of batters and walking 15.9%. Not particularly great, but the Jays may be able to help him figure stuff out.
In fact, the 30-year-old lefty had it figured out in the plague season. In 2020, he posted a 2.45 ERA and 3.69 FIP in 222 innings pitched, along with a career-high 29.6 K% and a career-best 9.2 BB%.
This is a fantastic deal in my opinion, as he won’t start the season on the 40-man roster, and even if he earns a spot, he has options remaining. It’s a low-risk, high-reward signing, which is always a good bet.
What to take away from this News and Notes:
For starters, the right-handed batting outfield market could get moving in the next few days with A.J. Pollock signing. Furthermore, it could have more suitors as the Philadelphia Phillies could decide to replace the departing Matt Vierling. The Phillies/Tigers trade may also be a good indication of what teams with high-leverage, hard-throwing relievers may want for those players.
Despite already having a pretty impressive bullpen, the Jays are clearly interested in improving it. They’ve shown this by signing relievers with great K% to minor league deals, or by picking up big arms on the waiver wire or via MiLB deals. It’s not surprising that they may also have interested in Alex Reyes, as he also has a big arm.
As always, you can follow me on Twitter and Instagram @Brennan_L_D.
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