The Blue Jays should take a flyer on RHP Alex Reyes for the bullpen

Photo credit:© Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
Tyson Shushkewich
1 year ago
The Toronto Blue Jays enter the 2023 season with most of their bullpen returning to the roster, with right-hander David Phelps being the only real subtraction from the squad. The Jays then improved the relief corps earlier this offseason by trading Teoscar Hernández to the Seattle Mariners in exchange for reliever Erik Swanson and prospect Adam Macko.
If the season was to start today, the bullpen would likely feature the following players (assuming eight pitchers):
  1. Adam Cimber
  2. Trevor Richards
  3. Erik Swanson
  4. Yimi García
  5. Anthony Bass
  6. Tim Mayza
  7. Mitch White/Yusei Kikuchi
  8. Jordan Romano
While the team can only roll into Opening Day with a max of eight relievers (assuming a five-man rotation for a max of 13 pitchers), there is also some additional depth that can be utilized as well in the form of Zach Pop, Nate Pearson, Matt Gage, Julian Merryweather (out of options), Trent Thornton, Yosver Zulueta, Hayden Juenger, and the newly signed Julian Fernández. Overall, the Jays bullpen is in pretty great shape heading into next season, which is good news considering the relief corps was one of the reasons the squad faltered in the playoffs, blowing an 8-1 lead in Game #2 of AL Wild Card against the Mariners.
Even with such a dense relief corps, there are still a few names on the free agent market who could provide additional insurance in the Blue Jays bullpen, with the likes of Andrew Chafin, Michael Fulmer, Chad Green, and Matt Moore still available. With all this in mind, one player that could be of interest to the front office if the price is right is former Cardinals reliever/closer Alex Reyes, who was non-tendered by St. Louis earlier this offseason.

Blue Jays should take a flyer on reliever Alex Reyes

The Cardinals’ top prospect heading into 2017, Reyes originally began his career as a starter but numerous injuries throughout his career saw his role change to being a featured member in the bullpen. The right-hander struggled to find a role through his first few seasons in the big leagues (missing all of 2017 and most of 2018) but really excelled in 2021, making 69 appearances and pitching to a 3.24 ERA with 29 saves. He finished 54 games on the season, racking up an 11.8 K/9 and allowing just 26 earned runs on the year, which wasn’t aided by his 6.5 BB/9 he authored during his All-Star campaign.
Reyes missed all of last season after undergoing shoulder surgery and the Cardinals non-tendered him, with the club unwilling to go to arbitration with their former top prospect. While the news on Reyes has been limited this offseason, any team willing to take a flyer on the Dominican product could find a diamond in the rough if he can stay healthy.
While the command was an issue in 2021, Reyes possesses a wicked fastball, which sits in the upper 90s. To compliment his fastball, Reyes also mixes in a slider and a sinker, with his slider holding opponents to a .089 average and featuring 8.3 inches of horizontal movement while the sinker provides another angle to combat the fastball. With his arsenal, he was able to generate soft contact from opposing batters, sitting in the 91st percentile in barrel% and the 81st percentile in hard-hit percentage.
The biggest concern for Reyes in 2023 would be his health, especially given his injury history and because he missed all of 2022 due to shoulder surgery. It will be interesting to see if he can rebound in 2023 and find the 2021 All-Star form but if the Blue Jays are able to bring him in on a Minor League “comeback” type deal, he would provide some additional fastball velocity depth alongside Fernández that provides some additional arms should the bullpen find itself in trouble during the season (whether it be performance or injuries). The Blue Jays were interested in the right-hander earlier this offseason, so it wouldn’t be outrageous to think some sort of deal can be sorted out to bring Reyes on board.



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