The Blue Jays have signed left-hander Franklin Morales to a one-year, $2MM non-guaranteed contract, the club announced in a press release. The deal also contains incentives. Ryan Tepera was optioned to Triple-A in a corresponding move.
Morales, 30, was released by the Brewers earlier this week after signing a minor league deal with the team. Milwaukee had a few veterans in camp as non-roster invites and instead opted for Chris Capuano as left-handed help out of the bullpen.
With Aaron Loup beginning the season on the DL with forearm tightness, the Blue Jays were thin on southpaw relievers, as Brett Cecil was the only other lefty in Toronto’s eight-man bullpen. The Jays signed Randy Choate to a minor league deal but released the veteran LOOGY in camp, while other minor league options include Wade LeBlanc, Colt Hynes or switch-pitcher Pat Venditte.
Morales earned a World Series ring last year as an important member of the Royals bullpen, posting a 3.18 ERA, 2.93 K/BB rate, 49.5% grounder rate and 5.9 K/9 over 62 1/3 innings. He has pronounced career splits (left-handed batters have a .613 OPS against him, right-handed batters an .837 OPS) but teams have been hesitant to use Morales as a pure situational lefty since he has a durable arm. Forty-seven of his 300 career appearances have been starts, and he even made 22 starts in 2014 when pressed into extended fill-in duty with the Rockies. Since Toronto already has Gavin Floyd and Jesse Chavez available for long relief stints, Morales could be used in a more traditional LOOGY role if he cracks the bullpen.