Kudos to the Blue Jays front office for the way they went about building their bullpen this season. They didn’t go out and break the bank on relievers like so many other teams went about in such a haphazard way. Instead, they targeted veteran relief pitchers and went about constructing their bullpen on a moderate budget.
Now that the Blue Jays are all but out of contention, those same veteran relievers with their reasonable contracts are the kind of players highly coveted by contenders.
Yesterday the Blue Jays got the ball rolling when it comes to moving their bullpen pieces by trading Seunghwan Oh to the Colorado Rockies. In return, they received prospects Chad Spanberger, Forrest Wall, and a player to be named later. Definitely keep an eye on both players, especially Spanberger, what with his impressive slash line of .316/.364/.580, to go along with 22 HR and 75 RBI in 91 games in Single A this season.
Bullpens have become such an important part of today’s game, but the idea of spending $8-million on a reliever who isn’t even an elite closer is ridiculous. Just look at the table below that shows all the relievers who were signed this off-season to big contracts and are now looking like complete busts. Not only are these players doing very little to help their team win ball games, it’s also next to impossible to trade them what with the combination of their poor play and hefty contracts.
Lets be honest, the Blue Jays weren’t making the post-season this year. Even had Josh Donaldson and Roberto Osuna been with the team the entire season, the playoffs just wasn’t happening for Toronto. Which is why it made so much sense not to go out and spend big money on a reliever. I don’t want to say that good relievers are easily replaceable, but they’re definitely the easiest type of player (position wise) to replace. Toronto can feel relatively comfortable with the idea of trading so many of their relievers because they know these players can be replaced with another reasonably priced and equally talented pitcher.
The Blue Jays going out and signing Seunghwan Oh, Tyler Clippard, and John Axford wasn’t just their way of building a competitive bullpen in 2018. It was also a means for them to improve their farm system by trading away these relievers when it was clear they had no chance of making the post-season. Five years down the road, it’ll be interesting to see just how many of these prospects who were acquired by the Blue Jays in exchange for relief pitchers ended up becoming contributors in the big leagues.