This will be the second stint with the Blue Jays for Bass, 34, who was with them in the shortened 2020 season. That year, Bass threw 25 2/3 innings out of the Toronto bullpen, putting up an ERA of 3.51 along with a 62.3% ground ball rate, 21% strikeout rate and 9% walk rate.
He reached free agency at the end of that campaign and signed with the Marlins on a two-year deal with a club option for 2023. In the first year of that deal, he put up fairly similar numbers to 2020, but he’s found another gear this year. As noted by MLBTR’s Steve Adams recently, Bass has started throwing his slider more this season and found excellent results. In 44 2/3 frames this year, he has a miniscule 1.41 ERA with a 26% strikeout rate that’s a career high. He’s also only walking 5.8% of batters faced, which is well below league average. He’s making a $3MM salary this year, with around $1MM left to be paid out, and has a $3MM club option for next year. By picking him up, the Blue Jays are adding a veteran that they know, having a career year on an affordable contract.
Pop, on the other hand, is just 25 years old, turning 26 next month. He was originally drafted by the Dodgers but went to the Orioles in the Manny Machado trade. In the 2020 Rule 5 draft, he was selected by the Diamondbacks, who flipped him to the Marlins. A ground ball specialist, Pop stuck with the Marlins for the entire 2021 season, throwing 54 2/3 innings out of their bullpen with a 4.12 ERA, 57.6% ground ball rate, 20.7% strikeout rate and 9.8% walk rate.
Here in 2022, he’s been bounced between Triple-A and the big leagues throughout the year, having been optioned and recalled three times. In his 20 MLB innings, he has a 3.60 ERA, 63.1% ground ball rate, 16.9% strikeout rate and 2.4% walk rate. In 24 1/3 innings at Triple-A, he’s posted fairly similar results, albeit with a few more walks. He logged a full year of service time last year but will fall short of the two-year mark this season because of that time spent in the minors. That means the Jays will be able to keep him around for five more seasons beyond this one, with Pop also capable of being optioned between the majors and the minors in the future. He comes with less of a track record than Bass but is cheap and controllable.
For the Marlins, they floated around the playoff race but have fallen off in recent weeks, currently 47-56 and 8 1/2 games out of a postseason spot. They are using some of their bullpen pieces to acquire Groshans, a prospect with strong pedigree but disappointing results this year. Selected by the Jays with the 12th overall pick in the 2018 draft, he was considered one of the top 100 prospects in the sport by Baseball America from 2019 to 2021. He was limited by injuries to just 23 games in 2019 and then saw the minor league wiped out in 2020.
He got back into a groove with a fine season in 2021, hitting seven home runs and slashing .291/.367/.450 in 75 Double-A games. However, this year has been a downturn, with Groshans struggling at Triple-A. He’s always had a good approach at the plate, walking almost as much as he strikes out, and that’s still true this year. His 12.5% walk rate and 16.5% strikeout rate are both much better than average, but he’s shown absolutely no power production on the season. He has one home run in 279 plate appearances on the season, leading to a tepid slash line of .250/.348/.296, wRC+ of 82.
For Miami, they are surely hoping that Groshans’ will eventually tap into more power to combine with his keen eye and bat-to-ball skills. He’s only 22 years old and could certainly still find another gear in that department. Groshans had played mostly shortstop thus far in his career but has gradually spent more time at third, with many prospect evaluators expecting him to eventually settle in at the hot corner. If that is indeed the case, he will certainly need to tap into more power in order to be a viable big league third baseman.
For the Blue Jays, they’ve added a couple of interesting pieces to a middling bullpen as they gear up for a stretch run. For the struggling Marlins, they’ve bought low on a prospect that was once considered one of the best in the game, hoping to find some value for the future.
Shi Davidi of Sportsnet was the first to report a deal involving Pop and Groshans. Craig Mish of Sportsgrid was the first to report that Anthony Bass was also heading to the Jays. Jon Heyman of the New York Post relayed that the Jays would also get a smaller piece, which Davidi relayed as a player to be named later.