Last off-season, when many ball clubs were blowing tens of millions of dollars in desperation to bolster their bullpens, the Blue Jays sat back, bided their time, and then signed Seunghwan Oh, John Axford, and Tyler Clippard for a bargain.
The Blue Jays ended up getting a decent effort from Axford and Clippard, but it was Oh who really impressed. Oh pitched so well for Toronto that come the trade deadline they were able to move him to Colorado for three solid prospects in Forrest Wall, Chad Spanberger, and Bryan Baker. Talk about a great way to build-up your prospect pool. Sign veteran relievers on the cheap…hope they have a respectable season…then ship them out at the deadline for youth.
Much like they did last winter, the Blue Jays will once again be looking to add a few bullpen pieces via free agency. And again, they’ll remain patient as other teams go out and over spend on free agent relievers such as Craig Kimbrel, Zach Britton, Andrew Miller, Kelvin Herrera, and Cody Allen. Then come February, when the rest of the unsigned relievers are getting antsy with Spring Training right around the corner, that’s when the Blue Jays will make their move.
When it comes to rounding out their bullpen, Toronto will likely do something similar to last year when they signed players to either minor-league deals (e.g. Axford, Clippard, Petricka) or small big-league contracts (e.g. Oh). The Blue Jays might look to familiar faces like Jake Petricka, Rhiner Cruz, or even Tom Koehler when signing players to minor-league deals. If however, Toronto is comfortable spending a little more money, perhaps they can land a higher quality reliever like Adam Warren, Jake Diekman, or Carson Smith.
2019 will very much be a year to build for the future in Toronto. That being said, unless they want to endure an agonizing season, the Blue Jays should go out and do what they can (without breaking the bank) to revamp what is a very weak bullpen.