Blue Jays designate reliever Tim Mayza for assignment, Romano out indefinitely

TORONTO — Bullpen depth was at the heart of the Toronto Blue Jays' success last year. This season, injuries and other issues have depleted that.

Veteran reliever Tim Mayza was designated for assignment and one-time closer Jordan Romano of Markham, Ont., was shut down with elbow discomfort by the Blue Jays on Saturday. Toronto manager John Schneider said the decimation of his bullpen has been difficult.

"It's always an opportunity for guys to step up and guys have in certain moments and you hope for those moments to be more consistent, but it's hard," said Schneider hours before the Blue Jays hosted the New York Yankees. "I think it's been tough. It's been tough."

Mayza was sent to the triple-A Buffalo Bisons, with right-hander Jose Cuas recalled to take his place. Because Mayza is considered a veteran under Major League Baseball's collective agreement, he must clear waivers before being able to report to Toronto's minor league team.

The 32-year-old Mayza, who has spent his entire seven-year career with the Blue Jays, had a career-best 1.52 earned-run average in 69 showings in 2023. He had an 0-1 record this season with an 8.03 ERA over 24 2/3 innings with just 16 strikeouts.

"I think just the need of left-handed pitching, I don't know what it is exactly around the league," said Schneider. "A guy with his track record, I think this year has been really tough for him.

"So, we'll see if someone takes a chance on him."

His reassignment comes after he surrendered five earned runs without recording an out in Friday's 16-5 loss to New York. Schneider said he expects that Mayza will report to the Bisons if no other teams claim him from waivers.

"He's a class act. As a player, teammate, husband and father. You know what I mean?" said Schneider. "He's rocking his collared shirt every day and he's done a lot for this team and the players, being a stabilizing guy down in the bullpen."

Cuas had been claimed off waivers by the Blue Jays on Sunday from the Chicago Cubs.

Romano will consult with doctors on Tuesday after he felt discomfort in his elbow throwing on Friday. Romano had been lights-out as a closer last season, with a 2.90 ERA and 72 strikeouts over 59 innings pitched. He had 36 saves on 40 save opportunities.

Like Mayza, this season has been a struggle for Romano with a 6.59 ERA and eight saves in 13 2/3 innings pitched before he was derailed by injuries.

"We thought we'd kind of turned the corner a little bit but yesterday didn't go as great as we had hoped," said Schneider, noting that imaging showed no obvious structural damage in Romano's elbow. "So I think just getting in person, evaluation is the next step."

Romano was already on the 15-day injured list with right-elbow inflammation. Right-handed pitcher Yimi Garcia, arguably the best reliever in baseball before he was shelved with right ulnar nerve neuritis, is also on the IL.

"Wasn't on our bingo card this year," said Schneider. "Variety of things down there in that 'pen."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 29, 2024.

John Chidley-Hill, The Canadian Press