After seeing Brett Cecil agree to a surprising four-year, $30.5MM contract with the Cardinals over the weekend, the Blue Jays are turning their focus to other free-agent lefties and have interest in Jerry Blevins, according to Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet (Twitter link). Toronto had reportedly made a three-year offer to Cecil’s camp, though that ultimately didn’t prove sizable enough to get the job done.
Blevins, who turned 33 in September, has spent the past two years with the Mets. A pair of fractures to his non-throwing arm cost him most of the 2015 season, but he rebounded quite nicely in 2016, returning to log a 2.79 ERA with 11.1 K/9, 3.2 BB/9 and a 45.8 percent ground-ball rate in 42 innings of work. The Mets used Blevins sparingly against right-handed hitters this past season, though he held his own against them quite well, yielding just a .182/.266/.345 slash line to opponents that held the platoon advantage. Somewhat curiously, it was lefties who got the better of Blevins in 2016, as they batted .255/.313/.324 in 113 plate appearances against him. That, however, is most likely an aberration, as a look at Blevins’ career splits reveals a .588 OPS from opposing left-handers compared to a .713 mark from righties.
The definitive loss of Cecil leaves the Blue Jays with just Aaron Loup, Matt Dermody, Chad Girodo and Ryan Borucki as left-handed bullpen options on the 40-man roster. Loup has been inconsistent and very homer-prone over the past two seasons, though, while Girodo and Dermody have a combined 13 innings of Major League experience between the two of them. Borucki, meanwhile, was only added to the 40-man roster last week (to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft) and hasn’t pitched a game above Class-A Advanced.
With so much uncertainty in the Jays’ left-handed relief corps, the connection to Blevins is natural. They’ll undoubtedly face some competition for Blevins, who is one of the top remaining left-handed setup options on the market and has already been connected to the Mets on multiple occasions this winter. It also seems likely that other free-agent lefties such as Boone Logan and Mike Dunn would also be on Toronto’s radar, and it wouldn’t come as a surprise if the Jays also tried to add an experienced left-hander to their ’pen via the trade market.