Not the kind of earth-shattering news we were maybe hoping for during these Winter Meetings– though it’s hard to get greedy, and as I heard Mike Wilner point out on the radio yesterday, if the Jays had spaced out their acquisitions of Johnson, Buehrle, Reyes, Bonifacio, Izturis and Cabrera a little more over the course of the winter, I don’t think we’d be nearly so antsy right now– but at least, apparently, Alex Anthpoulos is still on the prowl for something.

Per Ken Davidoff of the New York Post (via MLBTR):

The Blue Jays, having dramatically remade their team already, are looking for bullpen help. Lefty Darren Oliver, 42, has not yet committed to coming back for next season even though Toronto exercised its $3 million team option on the former Met.

There hasn’t been a lot of attention paid to the Jays bullpen so far this off-season, largely because of all the work Alex Anthopoulos did to shore it up over the course of the summer, but… maybe there should have been.

By the end of the year, we felt pretty comfortable with the group back there, but especially without Darren Oliver– along with exiting veterans Jason Frasor and Brandon Lyon– it’s not exactly the same unit. Casey Janssen was terrific, but even the Jays, according to Jeff Blair of the Globe and Mail this week, are giving off indications that his “grip on the Toronto closer’s spot is not iron-clad.”

“Indeed,” Blair writes, “it was apparent from both manager John Gibbons and Anthopoulos that if Sergio Santos (shoulder) is healthy, he could press Janssen.”

The health of Santos is still a work in progress, too, and for all the talk of having too many options, or too many guys who are out of options, beyond the two vying to be closer, the group isn’t exactly the Nasty Boys– at least not when it comes to name recognition.

Steve Delabar. Brad Lincoln. Brett Cecil. Aaron Loup. Esmil Rogers. Jeremy Jeffress. Chad Jenkins.

I mean, I know they have many strengths and that just because they’re not “name” relievers doesn’t mean they can’t be effective, but… this is the group we’re so confident in? Really?

It sure would look a lot better with Oliver back, another back-end piece to replace him, a guy like Carlos Villanueva, or even just with Happ sliding down from the rotation into the swingman role, wouldn’t it? Or, shit, remember when a couple executives told Jayson Stark that they saw the Jays as a landing spot for Rafael Soriano? I think big money spent on relievers is awful dumb… but on the other hand, what this book presupposes is, why the hell not?

They’ve got to do something, I think– at the very least with the money that will be freed up if Oliver turns them down.

So… there’s that.

Comments (51)

  1. Darren Oliver, former Met.

  2. No need to rush on a bullpen piece IMO

    Keppinger just signed with the White Sox for 3 years. Yanks screwed again, haha, love it. Looks like Youk’s out of the picture for Chi-town then.

    • Wonder why the Jays went with Maicer instead of Keppinger.

      • see my post down below a few posts

        Maicer is as good if not better and cost much less

        of the 3 deals – Maicer, Kep, Scoots – Maicer’s looks the best

        all similar players

        • basically paid maicer 1 mil less per year to perform similar skillset as Keppinger – frees up about 3 mil they could easily spend on an upcoming arb case or some reliever/minor league contracts

    • Enjoy Eric Chavez full time Yanks!

  3. Well they won’t sign Soriano. Surely not.
    Villanueva to compete with Happ would be ideal. Loser goes to the pen.

    • Soriano would be nice, but I agree, AA has not been wont to sign a big deal for a bullpen piece after the last 2 years of Fuckciso, Corderblow, and Jon Wretch, plus as AA’s said many a time, the position is too fluid, guys yo yo in production all the time.

      • i just think signing Soriano who is probably wanting 3 -4 years as a waste of cash. I wouldn’t mind either a Carlos V or another sp pitcher who could push Happ to the swingman role. personally I think the main thing the jays are missing is not a big name but the swingman. I don’t see Jenkins in the BP i see him in AAA as the first call up.

      • HAHAHAHA

        Those names are hilarious.

        You’re a funny guy.

        No, really.

    • Put them in the Thunderdome and let them battle it out. 2 men enter, 1 man leaves…

  4. I dont believe this for a second. Could they add another reliever? Sure, but its not a pressing need. Plus, Oliver might still come back. I say 2b and adding another starter are much more important.

    • 2B? I’d think that spot is just fine with both Izturis and Bonifacio.

    • I’d be surprised if Oliver came back and played for the Jays. I think the only way he’d come back would be if they promised to trade him to the Rangers.

  5. AA will pick some guy up. Even though the bull pen doesn’t have big names there are none out there that I’m really concerned with.

    I also think that with a fresh start a guy like Lincoln could play a MUCH larger role on this team. Santos should have a positive impact too. Oliver as the solid high leverage lefty would certainly make me feel better.. but I actually think the Jays have a pretty strong bullpen given what we know about each of those guys.

    • Yea, they have a wicked array of arms IMO – if the bullpen is managed better, no reason these guys cant perform together as an elite unit. We’ve seen what Delabar is capable of in a one to one a half inning stretch, striking out 3-4 guys several times. We know Lincoln had huge success in Pitts as set up. We know Cecil can pitch pretty decently for 2 innings before they pick up on his pitches making him an effective long reliever. Loup came out of nowhere and was amazing. Carreno was fantastic a year prior when he was in a similar position as Loup. Santos will be back. Janssen will be consistently good wherever he is. Perez was great during stretches and will be coming back.

      Still room to slot in guys like Villy, Happ, Jenkins too

  6. Jays have 2 capable 2b – they are most definitely NOT looking for another

    Platoon bat and bullpen is only thing AA will get unless he can sign a pitcher cheaply for one year or acquire someone really solid in a trade he thinks is appropriate

    • 2 capable 2B? who? isturiz is a maybe at best 110 game utility..bonifacio the same at maybe 100 games… they dont have anything close to a good full time 2B

      • capable iny my mind is not the same as good

        it means capable of getting the job done good “enough”

        neither is ideal but the 2b market is pretty rough right now and not a chance Scoots was gonna come back

        like i said a week ago, maybe AA is planning on snatching Cano next year?

  7. I have my doubts. Soriano is no genius.

  8. Still thinking about the Atlanta rumour. What would it take to get Kris Medlen? He’s probably not available.

  9. It would be nice for another reliever, but I think they should get Moreau from the twins n give up on Line he’s useless! Can’t wait for the season to start though!

  10. If Oliver comes back, I think the bullpen is done aside from waiver pickups, minor league free agents etc.

    If Oliver doesn’t come back, which might not be known until January according to AA, the Jays would probably just look for a 1 yr reliever. It might not even be a lefty with Loup & Cecil & maybe even Happ in the mix.

    Much like the 25th man on the roster, I really don’t think there is a rush to commit dollars & guarantee a job.

    At the moment, there is a decent chance that there are 9 relievers for 7 jobs, 2 of which may end up in Buffalo. And Jeffress & Cecil, who may be 8 and 9 on the depth chart, are out of options which might hurt Loup and one of the pre-arb RHP with options.

  11. If we’re looking to spend money on a big-name left-handed reliever to replace Darren Oliver, then Sean Burnett’s name should naturally rise to the top.

    I hope Oliver is truly broken up about this decision because he’s putting us in a bad spot with the uncertainty. His role as a high-leverage lefty isn’t exactly the easiest to fill in Februrary..

  12. I like what Soriano has doen in the AL East, but it would have to be a 6-8 million one year deal for the blue jays to be interested, in my mind. I’d do a low base salary with huge incentives for saves and game finished a possibilty of 15 million and maybe even a vesting option if he’s in the mvp voting(I know this will not happen) for the Jyas to be interested it would have to be at nowhere near the years and money he wants. I could be wrong but Soriano is a Boras client and I don’t think the Jyas lately have really hade any players repersented by him, maybe because they don’t like the cost of his clients and the fac the encourages them to hit free agency.

    • Having said that I don’t think the blue Jays are interested in Soriano and nor should they be for some reason last offseason media really thought the Jays were in on Papelpon, were they probably not…. I kind of hope not, don’t wna tthem to give a closer or any releiver no matte rhow domiant they might be 3 years and 45 million or whatever the hell this guy wants, I mean he walked away from 13 million.

  13. Jason Grilli???? ;)

  14. 3 yrs/12 mil for Keppinger

    That Maicer deal is looking really good right now in the wake of this signing and Scutaro’s 3 yr/20 mil

    Virtually all very similar player with similar skillsets – low power, good D, good avg. and decent on base ability

    Hats off to AA once again

    • If Macier is worth 12 million over three years then I don’t think it’s that bad of a deal for Keppinger if that’s what the market states. He broke his leg or something recently and is recovering but if Macier can get that, so should he in my mind.
      I wouldn’t mind trying to sign Bonnie to some kind of deal like this…. Love versatillity.
      I think it’s an over pay for both Macier and Keppinger based on the years not the money, it’s what the market dictates…. Every player is overpaid in my mind(It’s what the Market is, players and agents have to love that additional national tv money.)

      • Yea, everything is an overpay these days, well, most are

        I just mean comparing what the market rate was set at, AA’s signing of Maicer looks like a value

        3 years is a lot for a utility player, if thats what you mean, but just like when Scutaro was in TO, you never know if that utility player has a breakout year and ends up putting up 2.5 or more WAR

        All i know is looking at the career #s of all 3 guys, they are all very similar. Only reason I think that Kep got paid more is he came off a better year and has more power potential. But otherwise, they are virtually the same player – Maicer is better defender with more speed, Kep is slightly better hitter with more power

        • It’s the third year that bothered me a little but that was so early in the offseason Iwhen AA signed Macier that I was thinking three years and still was until this week when I saw what free agents were getting. Victorino get’s three years Keppinger get’s three, Guthrie so now I do believe AA didn’t over pay in years becasue of the market.

          Still don’t like the htird year on any of the palyers I mentioned in this post but I do believe Macier will have a really good first year(breakout type performance, I know he’s 32) Your right in the Scuarto compairson he was how old at the time and broke out in the AL East and the Rogers centre.

          The Blue Jays always seem to have that one guy have a great year that nobody saw coming. 2008 Scuarto, 2009, Hill,Lind 2010 Jose,A-Gon,Buck 2011 Romero(I neve rthought he’d have that good of a year, not a bad palyer but I don’t think he has a season like 2011 again) 2012 EE

        • You’re right, career wise there are a lot of similarities between Maicer, Keppinger and Scutaro.


          Given that Maicer is the better defender and is five years younger than Scutaro (and a few months younger than Keppinger), I think it’s a safe bet that three years from now, Maicer will have provided the best value of the three, relative to the contracts.

  15. Thought I told y’all I’m done. Shit. Go back to your lives. Oh, wait…

  16. The only thing that the 3M the Jays owe Oliver can realistically be reinvested into that fits a need is a platoon bat with Lind. Ty Wigginton anyone?

  17. I’ve been saying exactly this all along. Jays can’t rely on Oliver at this point, and with all the optimism going into 2013, it would be a shame if they didn’t improve on the current pen situation. Can’t overstate the importance of a nasty pen to win games, and how much it hurts the rest of the team if they continue to fuck shit up. One more decent starter and two more reliable relievers (one swing man and one back end potential to be a closer kind of guy) and they can throw out the first pitch. Lots of work ahead for AA.

  18. Serious question: how many more wins does this current bullpen have in them now Gibby is managing? He’s been spoken of as a bullpen specialist who handles his ‘pens excellently. Farrell clearly didn’t know what he was doing in that regard and handled the ‘pens badly. We don’t know Oliver’s status and that has to figure into the equation. But I can’t believe the others haven’t picked up an aggregate of at least 4 wins just by being handled properly.

    • Sample size is pretty small, so its hard to distinguish what credit Farrell and Gibbons deserve or don’t deserve on their bullpens’ collective effectiveness. IMO most of your bullpen success has to do with having the right guys in the pen, while the manager just goes by the book on how to manage it (for the most part). So, I wouldn’t count on the manager change to a guy who is perceived to be a “bullpen specialist” as the solution to the inherent risk involved in a pen that is relatively unproven. Quite simply, AA needs to find a couple more arms that can come in and make opposing hitters piss their pants before the at bat rather than jizz their pants after the at bat.

  19. After all the work the Jays have done over the last few years to hoard draft picks, I really can’t see Anthopoulos forfeiting a second round pick to sign Rafael Soriano to a huge contract.

    • Agreed.

      If they were looking to spend money on a reliever, Joakim Soria just signed on for 2@$8 mill.

      They surely would have outbid this instead of a big money deal for Soriano.

  20. Imagine if CV decides he wants to jump back aboard, plus they manage to find another starter, pushing Happ back.

    All of a sudden there are a lot of options: Janssen, Santos, Delabar, Lincoln, Rogers, Jeffress, Jenkins and CV from the right; Cecil, Loup, Happ from the left, not even counting Oliver.

    And we have a good 6 and 7 starter.

    I think getting CV is more important than someone on the back end.

    • I agree with bob.

      CV would be great to have back and he’s a known quantity who is versatile and has already had experience pitching against the division. I’d rather him than taking an expensive flier on someone else.



  22. One word… Valverde

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