It’s funny to think how much some teams went out and spent on relievers this off-season. Now consider for a moment what the Blue Jays were paying Seunghwan Oh this year ($1,750,000)…along with how well he was pitching compared to many of the overpaid relievers out there…and the fact that Toronto was able to move him (a 36-year old relief pitcher) for three prospects. Two of whom were on Colorado’s list of Top 30 prospects (Forrest Wall, #13 and Chad Spanberger, #24).
Earlier this week, the Blue Jays also received relief pitcher Bryan Baker, the player to be named later to complete the trade with the Rockies for Oh. Although Baker isn’t as hyped as Wall or Spanberger, he’s still a solid minor league pitcher with plenty of upside.
Major League Baseball is a copycat league, but when it comes to how a ball club goes about building their bullpen, Blue Jay fans should be thanking their lucky stars that Ross Atkins shows some originality and actually thinks for himself. It’s a bit embarrassing really, that so many teams who pay big money to their GM’s, only for these so-called experts to simply copy what’s working for another organization. Just like the Rockies went out and overpaid for relief pitchers Wade Davis, Bryan Shaw, and Jake McGee this winter, they parted with far too much for a single reliever in Oh.
Some might say Toronto was taking a chance signing older free agents like Oh, John Axford, and Tyler Clippard to round out their bullpen. But given their track record, signing them was hardly a risk, especially when considering how affordable they were. Over the past few seasons, the Blue Jays have learned that older/reasonably priced relief pitchers can be just as good as anyone. Case in point Joaquin Benoit, LaTroy Hawkins, and the 2016 version of Jason Grilli.
Even if just one of these three prospects pans out for the Blue Jays, right there, that’s a big league ball player they control for six long years. Don’t get me wrong, Oh was an excellent reliever for Toronto and the bullpen misses him. But chances are the Blue Jays can go out and sign a reasonably priced free agent this off-season capable of doing an equally good job.