With the amount of money being thrown around on relief pitching these days, it’s a comforting feeling to know that the area of littlest concern for the Blue Jays in 2018 is their bullpen.
Not only does Toronto have a solid returning core which includes such mainstays as Roberto Osuna, Ryan Tepera, Dominic Leone, and Danny Barnes, but they also have another talented group of promising young pitchers looking to crack the opening day roster. This group of relievers looking to establish themselves as regular big league relievers includes Carlos Ramirez, Luis Santos, Matt Dermody, and possibly even the recently acquired and uber-talented Taylor Guerrieri. Although the Blue Jays will likely prefer to see what Guerrieri is capable of as a starter before they ever consider transitioning him into a reliever.
For the first time in a long while the Blue Jays have a glut of talented relievers to choose from to begin a season. In fact, they have more quality relievers than they know what to do with, as several of these big league worthy relief candidates will undoubtedly begin the year down in the minors. Although the Blue Jays are working from a position of strength when it comes to their bullpen, that’s still no reason why they can’t go about making it even better than it already is.
This off-season has seen the importance of relievers reach unprecedented levels as relief pitchers are receiving contracts unlike anything seen before. Many ball clubs aren’t shying away from offering 8, 9, even $10-million/year for relievers who aren’t even elite. Eight of the eleven largest free agent contracts signed so far this off-season have been for relievers. Thankfully for clubs like Toronto who are trying to be smart when it comes to their spending, there still remain plenty of quality relievers on the market. These relievers who’ve yet to sign will also come with a much more reasonable price tag compared to the huge sums spent on relievers thus far.
As talented as Toronto’s bullpen might be, one area where they’re lacking in is experience. In years past, Toronto could depend on veteran savvy relief pitchers like LaTroy Hawkins, Jason Grilli, and Joe Smith to help guide the Blue Jays younger pitchers. Several free agents who could fill a leadership role in the Blue Jays bullpen include Peter Moylan, Tyler Clippard, or Al Alburquerque. Moylan in particular would be a real nice fit with the Blue Jays. Although his age (39) is a bit of a concern, the crafty side-armer has been a picture of consistency since he began playing in the majors back in 2006.