Other than the always dependable Ryan Tepera, what mainstays does the Blue Jays bullpen possess at the moment? That is to say, which relievers (with the exception of Tepera) are pretty much guaranteed to be part of Toronto’s bullpen at the beginning of next season.
The answer to that question is, there are none. As things stand, Tepera is the only Blue Jay reliever you can say with a shred of confidence will be with Toronto when play starts in the spring of 2019. God knows what’s going to happen with Roberto Osuna. Danny Barnes and Joe Biagini don’t look anything like the reliable relievers they once were. While veterans like Tyler Clippard, Seunghwan Oh, Aaron Loup, and John Axford are all on the trading block.
With so many question marks surrounding an already weak bullpen, to hear that there’s plenty of trade interest surrounding Tepera is a little worrying.
Source: Trade interest building in #BlueJays reliever Ryan Tepera, who has a career-best SO/9 rate this year. He’s not a free agent until after 2021, so Toronto faces no urgency to move him. @MLBNetwork @MLB
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) June 19, 2018
Toronto’s bullpen has already taken enough of a hit what with Osuna being out since May 8, as well as losing their best reliever from 2017, Dominic Leone. Simply put, even for a none contender like the Blue Jays, they can’t afford to lose Tepera. Not unless they want the worst bullpen in the American League. A bullpen that currently sits 11th in the AL when it comes to ERA with their 4.08.
Toronto’s front office seems to think that solid relievers like Tepera and Leone can be easily replaced via affordable free agents. Tepera and his 2.75 ERA is not an easy thing to replace. Not unless your comfortable spending $7+ million/season on a free agent reliever, which just happens to be the going rate for a free agent pitcher of Tepera’s quality. Last off-season, in what was the winter of the reliever, 10 relief pitchers received contracts in excess of $7-million per season. And many of those players aren’t nearly as good as Tepera (e.g. Joe Smith, Juan Nicasio, Tommy Hunter) who’s under team control until the end of the 2021 season.
I’m all for the Blue Jays being sellers this season…and big-time sellers at that. That being said, they’ll still need a core group of guys to remain while younger players are added little by little as soon as they confirm their readiness for the big leagues. The Blue Jays have more than enough pending free agents to focus on trading in order to build-up their stock of young talent. Which is why there’s no need to part with a special player like Tepera who can continue to help this team for years to come before he even becomes a free agent.