The Blue Jays have sent right-hander Zach Thompson outright to Triple-A Buffalo after he went unclaimed on waivers, tweets Mitch Bannon of Sports Illustrated. He’d been designated for assignment on Tuesday when the Jays brought up Bowden Francis.
Thompson hasn’t made an MLB appearance with Toronto. The Jays acquired him from the Pirates over the offseason for minor league outfielder Chavez Young. He’s spent the year on optional assignment, serving as rotation depth for a club that hadn’t gone beyond its top five starters until optioning Alek Manoah this week. Thompson has had a tough go with the Bisons, serving up nearly seven earned runs per nine in 47 innings across 11 starts.
It’s a tough follow-up to a disappointing lone season in Pittsburgh. Thompson had emerged as an interesting late-blooming starter with the Marlins in 2021, when he worked to a 3.24 ERA over 75 innings. Pittsburgh brought him in as part of the deal that sent catcher Jacob Stallings to South Florida. The Pirates gave Thompson 121 2/3 frames last season, but he stumbled to a 5.18 ERA while striking out a below-average 16.6% of opponents.
The swing-and-miss has dipped further this year. Thompson has a 14.4% strikeout rate in Triple-A, where he’s allowed over two homers per nine. The struggles were significant enough he’d been leapfrogged on the depth chart by Francis, who seems likely to get the first crack at replacing Manoah in the rotation.
Thompson has less than three years of major league service and has never previously cleared waivers. He therefore doesn’t have the ability to decline an outright assignment. Thompson will stick in Buffalo and try to pitch his way back into the MLB mix. If the Jays don’t add him back to the 40-man roster by season’s end, he’d reach minor league free agency to start the winter.