Shelton: Three relievers the Blue Jays should look to sign

Veteran left-hander Jake Diekman might be a good fit for the Toronto Blue Jays bullpen in 2019.

Veteran left-hander Jake Diekman might be a good fit for the Toronto Blue Jays bullpen in 2019.

By Cole Shelton

Canadian Baseball Network

The Toronto Blue Jays have had a rather quiet off-season addressing positional needs.

Their biggest move of the off-season was trading Russell Martin to the Los Angeles Dodgers for two prospects. However, what that trade didn’t do is address the bullpen, which needs to be improved before the season begins.

The Blue Jays have already signed David Phelps who should be a high leverage reliever. However, there are still slots to fill, and here are three relievers the Blue Jays should look to sign":

Justin Wilson, LHP

As of right now, the only left-handed reliever in Toronto’s bullpen would be Tim Mayza, who has yet to show a consistent track record at the MLB level. Thus, the Blue Jays need to address the need and do so if they sign Wilson.

The 31-year-old lefty has bounced around to several teams over the past couple of seasons, but has still been able to pitch well. Last season, with the Chicago Cubs, Wilson appeared in 71 games and posted a 3.46 ERA, and a 1.42 WHIP.

Ultimately, the veteran southpaw would be a welcome addition to Toronto’s bullpen for many reasons. For one, Wilson strikes out a lot of batters to a strikeout percentage of 28.6%. Then, when batters do make contact, more times than not they don’t make solid contact. Last season, hitters had a hard hit rate of 31.7% and an exit velocity of 86.9. That would bode well in a hitter friendly park like the Rogers Centre. Wilson would also be a good fit at the Rogers Centre given the fact he is a ground ball pitcher. Last season, he had a ground ball rate of 45.1%.

Toronto needs left-handed pitchers and Wilson is one of the better ones on the market that could very well accept a two-year deal.

Brandon Maurer, RHP

This may not be a name Blue Jays fans were hoping to see. Maurer struggled mightily last season with the Kansas City Royals last season. He appeared in 37 games and pitched to a 7.76 ERA and no doubt will be looking for a minor-league deal with an invite to spring training. That is exactly what Toronto could offer him.

Currently, the Blue Jays have Ken Giles and Ryan Tepera as locks for the bullpen with a handful of other right-handers fighting for a few spots. That puts Maurer into the competition for a spot in the bullpen, if not he can head to triple-A Buffalo or elect to go back to free agency.

Maurer has had success in the big leagues before and Toronto would bet on the fact that he could do it again.

Jake Diekman, LHP

Similar to Wilson, Diekman could come into Toronto and be the top left-handed reliever out of the bullpen. The 31-year-old spent last season with the Texas Rangers and Arizona Diamondbacks, and had troubles getting National League hitters out.

Although Diekman’s second half of the season was not a good one, he has pitched well in the American League with the Rangers. In 2018 with Texas he appeared in 47 games and pitched to a 3.69 ERA and a 1.31 WHIP.

With the Blue Jays, Diekman could be a lefty specialist out of the bullpen, but can also pitch high leverage situations as he did in Texas. After a miserable second half of 2018, Diekman may very well be forced to take an incentive-based contract or a minor league deal. The hope there is that he rebounds to pitch as he did with the Rangers and Toronto could then flip him at the trade deadline for prospects.

There are still lots of relievers on the open market, and for Toronto, it is about figuring out who fits the bullpen the best and what role they will play.