Heading into this season, Brian Tallet's second year of arbitration eligibility, the Blue Jays nearly doubled the left-hander's 2009 salary, signing him for $2MM. Tallet hadn't enjoyed an overly successful 2009, recording a 5.32 ERA and 1.67 K/BB, but he was a useful innings eater for the Jays, starting 25 games and pitching 160.2 IP.
In 2010, Tallet hasn't even provided value as an innings eater, earning less than half the playing time he did a year ago. In 30 appearances (five starts), the southpaw, who turns 33 tomorrow, has seen his ERA (6.28) and BB/9 (4.5) rise, while his strikeout rate (5.9 K/9) has declined. Even if Tallet didn't receive a raise through arbitration this winter, it seems unlikely that the Jays would want to pay $2MM to a player coming off such an underwhelming season.
Tallet does have two factors working in his favor, however: three of Toronto's late-inning relievers (Kevin Gregg, Scott Downs, and Jason Frasor) are facing possible free agency, meaning there could be plenty of holes to fill in the club's bullpen. Plus, the silver lining in Tallet's 2010 season has been his ability to shut down left-handed hitters. In 106 plate appearances against Tallet, lefties have hit just .181/.236/.362, striking out 26 times. The Jays have plenty of other options to fill out their 2011 rotation, so they could decide to retain Tallet not in a starting or mop-up role, but as a left-handed specialist out of the 'pen. At $2MM, there are worse investments.
Still, the 32-year-old's numbers against lefties this year may not translate to future success – for his career, left-handers have a .740 OPS against Tallet. And even if he continued to shut down lefties, the market price for LOOGYs isn't high. It took Joe Beimel, who has filled a similar role in Colorado this season, nearly the entire offseason to land a one-year, $850K minor league deal with the Rockies.