The Blue Jays announced today that they have outrighted four players from their 40-man roster. Justin Shafer will remain in the organization after clearing waivers, while fellow right-handed hurlers Rhiner Cruz, Taylor Guerrieri, and Jake Petricka were all sent into free agency after going unclaimed.
Shafer, 26, made his big league debut in ’18 but allowed three runs in 8 1/3 innings while issuing a troubling seven walks in that time. He struggled as a starter in the low minors but has posted solid ERA marks as a reliever in Double-A (2.75, 75 1/3 innings) and Triple-A (1.49 ERA, 42 1/3 innings). Shafer has still averaged under eight punchouts per nine innings and walked nearly four per nine innings in the upper minors, though.
Cruz, 32, has bounced around the league on minor league deals since he was a top pick in the 2011 Rule 5 Draft. He posted an ERA north of 6.00 in his rookie season with the Astros following that selection and has never found his footing in the big leagues, as he owns a 5.20 ERA in 79 2/3 frames.
Guerrieri was one of the top prospects in baseball with the Rays before arm injuries tanked his status. He posted video game numbers between Class-A Advanced and Double-A as a 22-year-old in 2015 but has yet to find success in the upper minors (4.86 ERA in 66 2/3 Triple-A innings) since making it back to the mound. He threw 9 2/3 innings with the Blue Jays this year and allowed five runs on nine hits and four walks with eight strikeouts.
Petricka has the most experience of the names in question here, and he posted a 4.53 ERA with a respectable 8.1 K/9 against 3.2 BB/9 in 45 2/3 frames out of the Toronto ’pen in 2018. The longtime White Sox reliever has a lifetime 3.98 ERA in 223 2/3 MLB frames but would’ve been arbitration-eligible this winter. The Blue Jays, rather than pay him a raise on 2018’s $1.3MM base salary, opted to cut him loose early and give him a jump start on finding a new club in free agency.