Yesterday the Blue Jays went ahead and gave their bullpen the shot in the arm it sorely needed by signing 32-year old reliever David Phelps.
Phelps is coming off a year where he missed the entire season after undergoing Tommy John surgery in the spring. Although he is expected to be ready for Spring Training. Due to the severity of the injury he suffered last March, the Blue Jays were able to sign a quality reliever like Phelps to a relatively team friendly 1-year deal for $2.5 million (plus incentives) that also includes a team option in 2020.
Predominantly a starter to begin his career, Phelps made the switch to the bullpen in 2016. A role he’s excelled at, posting a 2.82 ERA over 118 innings since becoming a full-time reliever. Look for Phelps to be another set-up type relief pitcher for the Blue Jays, similar to Ryan Tepera.
Much like another recent signing by the Blue Jays, Matt Shoemaker, Phelps is a low-risk option with the potential of a huge upside. If things work out and he regains his form and health, Toronto can then move him at the trade deadline for youth much like they did so successfully this past season with Seunghwan Oh.
Last winter the Blue Jays built-up their bullpen by signing reasonably priced veteran relievers who were coming off sub-par years. It was a strategy that worked quite well, especially in comparison to so many other teams who chose instead to spend big money on relievers only for those pitchers to perform well below expectations.
With so many question marks surrounding the state of Toronto’s starting rotation, one would hope Phelps is just the first of several relievers brought in to bolster a bullpen in serious need of some help.