How the Blue Jays could find relief help via trade

Yahoo Canada Sports
Richard Bleier is the latest Baltimore Oriole to excel out of the bullpen (G Fiume/Getty Images)
Richard Bleier is the latest Baltimore Oriole to excel out of the bullpen (G Fiume/Getty Images)

On Friday in this space we looked at how the Blue Jays might patch up their bullpen with a few signings. The club also has the option to bolster their relief corps through trades.

It’s an unusual method for a team unlikely to contend because it means you have to believe in a reliever to stay effective over the long term, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to make a good deal.

Scroll to continue with content
Ad

Here are a few bullpen arms that might be worth prying away in a trade:

The Oriole Escape: Richard Bleier

Age: 31
Throws: Left
Arsenal: Two-Seam Fastball, Cutter, Slider, Changeup
Fastball Velocity: 88.0 mph
Contract Status: MLB-minimum 2019, Arbitration-eligible 2020-2022
2018 stats: 4.13 K/9, 1.10 BB/9, 0.00 HR/9, 1.93 ERA and 2.70 FIP in 32.2 IP

How it works: Bleier is a pitcher with extraordinary strengths and significant blemishes. He’s a late bloomer who doesn’t throw hard, lacks a lengthy track record, and doesn’t miss bats. On the other hand, he’s keeps the ball on the ground like few others, is virtually unhittable for lefties, and comes with years of team control.

If Bleier were younger, there’s no chance the Orioles would relinquish him, leaving him to serve as a bullpen building block. After all, he’s got a career ERA of 1.97 in 119 innings over the last three seasons and is under control for the next four. That said, they’re in a position as a franchise where anyone over 30 doesn’t do them much good and Bleier has enough question marks surrounding him that they’re best served moving him for a healthy return.

The Conversion Project: Luis Perdomo

Perdomo is probably better known for his inexplicable triples hitting than his pitching of late, but that doesn’t mean he lacks talent.
Perdomo is probably better known for his inexplicable triples hitting than his pitching of late, but that doesn’t mean he lacks talent.

Age: 25
Throws: Right
Arsenal: Four-Seam Fastball, Two-Seam Fastball, Slider, Changeup
Fastball Velocity: 93.3 mph
Contract Status: MLB-minimum 2019, Arbitration-eligible 2020-2022
2018 stats: 7.86 K/9, 4.43 BB/9, 0.81 HR/9, 7.06 ERA and 4.26 FIP in 44.2 IP

How it works: Perdomo is coming off a season where he hit a wall and found himself in Triple-A after logging over 300 innings of big-league ball the previous two years. Even though his 2017 had some promise, no pitcher with 350 frames since 2016 has posted a higher ERA than his 5.40 mark. It’s probably just about time to pull the plug on the idea of Perdomo as an effective starter.

That said, he does have real potential in relief. His fastball could play up into the mid-90’s, his ground ball rate is strong, and he could ditch his ineffective changeup. The Padres are at a bit of an ambiguous place in their competitive window because they have so many top-notch prospects on the way, but it’s hard to see them clinging too hard to an arm who won’t be productive until he gets a change in role – and perhaps a change of scenery.

Obscure but Effective: Silvino Bracho

Silvino Bracho had a good year with the Arizona Diamondbacks last season and they seem to be moving parts. (Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
Silvino Bracho had a good year with the Arizona Diamondbacks last season and they seem to be moving parts. (Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)

Age: 26
Throws: Right
Arsenal: Four-Seam Fastball, Slider, Changeup
Fastball Velocity: 93.3 mph
Contract Status: MLB-minimum 2019, Arbitration-eligible 2020-2022
2018 stats: 9.87 K/9, 3.48 BB/9, 0.58 HR/9, 3.26 ERA and 3.19 FIP in 31.0 IP

How it works: To say Bracho isn’t a household name would be an understatement. The 26-year-old spent part of last season in Triple-A, has never held a starring role in a major-league bullpen. Even so, he pitched really well for the Diamondbacks last season and clearly changed his pitching style in recent years, moving away from an ineffective slider and featuring the changeup as his top off-speed offering.

Bracho isn’t a fireballer by modern standards, but his velocity is plenty good enough – allowing him to work the top of the zone and produce a strong popup rate. He also misses plenty of bats, holding opponents to a contact rate below 70 percent in 2018. Because he’s cheap, effective, and under control for four more years the Diamondbacks won’t be dying to deal him – but he’s also a guy they might feel like they’re selling high on because he was so much better at the highest level last season than he’s ever been before.

The breakout looks legit, though, so what looks like buying high could end up being a bargain.

The Control Artist: Robbie Erlin

Robbie Erlin was a top prospect, but now he’s showing promise as a reliever. (Don Boomer/AP)
Robbie Erlin was a top prospect, but now he’s showing promise as a reliever. (Don Boomer/AP)

Age: 28
Throws: Left
Arsenal: Four-Seam Fastball, Two-Seam Fastball, Cutter, Changeup, Curveball
Fastball Velocity: 90.3 mph
Contract Status: Arbitration-eligible 2019-2020 (MLBTR projects $1.1 million salary for 2019)
2018 stats: 7.27 K/9, 0.99 BB/9, 0.99 HR/9, 4.21 ERA and 3.31 FIP in 109 IP

How it works: Yes, we’ve got another Padres starter here, but this one already converted to relief last season. That move worked out beautifully as he produced 52.2 innings of 2.05 ERA ball where he held opposing hitters to a meagre .204/.224/.315 line thanks to a non-existent walk rate.

San Diego brought him back to the rotation in August, and plan to start him there this season, but he’d be better off if he were plucked away before that happens. Erlin as a starter is underwhelming, as a reliever he looks formidable. His stuff isn’t eye-popping but his control is, and out of the bullpen he can get back into the 90s with his fastball, which is fine for a southpaw.

With only two years of control remaining, it’s hard to imagine he’s unavailable. The Blue Jays could snap him up, put him in a position to succeed, and either reap the benefits or ship him to a contender who will.

What to Read Next