Toronto Blue Jays – MLB Trade Rumors 2020-10-23T00:24:22Z WordPress Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Mark Shapiro Expects To Remain With Blue Jays]]> 2020-10-22T03:51:12Z 2020-10-22T03:51:12Z Blue Jays president Mark Shapiro has fielded his share of criticism over five years at the helm, but now seems on the precipice of another term. As Shi Davidi of was among those to report, Shapiro strongly suggested that he’s going to re-up with the Toronto organization.

Shapiro has long spoken of his interest in remaining with the Jays, so there’s no news there. But as Davidi observes, it’s hard to imagine that the veteran executive would’ve casually made these additional comments in the absence of an all-but-imminent new contract:

“The desire to be here long term has been reciprocated by the people I work for. That’s as simple as I can be for you. I’ll be here until I’m not here. Based upon my desire to be here and the reciprocation of that, I would expect that that’s going to continue to happen.”

It’d certainly rate as a major surprise at this point to see Shapiro depart. Just how long and lucrative his new contract will be remains to be seen, but it appears the Blue Jays will entrust him with navigating a tricky economic and competitive situation.

Quite apart from these suggestive comments, Shapiro seemed safe after a successful 2020 showing. Facing increasing pressure from the fanbase, he and GM Ross Atkins delivered a postseason appearance after making a few significant roster moves in the 2019-20 offseason.

Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Blue Jays Notes: Pitching, Defense, Pearson, Kirk]]> 2020-10-22T03:51:09Z 2020-10-21T22:25:18Z Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins said Wednesday the club will prioritize improving its strike throwing and defense this offseason, Scott Mitchell of TSN tweets. Although Toronto earned a playoff spot in 2020, its pitching staff ranked 28th in the majors in walks per nine innings (4.29), helping lead to a middling 4.63 ERA/4.73 FIP. The Blue Jays now have multiple openings in their starting staff, which could see Matt Shoemaker, Taijuan Walker and Robbie Ray leave in free agency. Defensively, the Jays ended up 20th in UZR (minus-6) and 29th in DRS (minus-39), so it’s also understandable that Atkins wants to address that aspect of the team.

Here’s more on the up-and-coming Jays…

  • The Blue Jays promoted hyped right-handed prospect Nate Pearson in late July, but he ultimately went through an adverse rookie campaign. The 24-year-old threw 18 innings of 6.00 ERA/7.50 FIP ball, owing in part to elbow problems. Although Pearson didn’t experience the success or endure the workload the Jays were hoping for this year, they’re optimistic about him going forward (via Gregor Chisholm of the Toronto Star). “What I think it means is that he made progress this year, even though he had the injury and had the setback. He made his major-league debut, he showed he can get major-league hitters out, and he will better because of that in his progression next year,” said Atkins. Toronto will monitor Pearson’s innings in 2021, though he should still be an important part of its rotation.
  • More from Chisholm, who writes that Toronto could hand the catching reins to Alejandro Kirk sometime in 2021, though he’s not a lock to begin the season with the big club. Atkins called the 21-year-old Kirk’s process “very, very mature,” but he’ll need a “very productive” winter to earn a season-opening spot with the Blue Jays. Kirk, who hadn’t played above High-A ball, was hugely impressive during his brief MLB debut in 2020, slashing .375/.400/.583 with a home run in 25 plate appearances. Primary catcher Danny Jansen batted .183/.313/.358 with six homers across 147 PA.
Steve Adams <![CDATA[Blue Jays Notes: Bichette, Shoemaker, Vlad]]> 2020-10-16T19:30:25Z 2020-10-16T19:25:44Z Bo Bichette figures to be one of the centerpieces for the Blue Jays for the foreseeable future, but the budding superstar said on Sportsnet’s Good Show this week that a contract extension isn’t anything he’s thinking about at this time (audio clip).

“It’s been brought up and it’s definitely something I’m interested in, but at the same time I’m not going to sell myself short,” said Bichette. “We’ll see what happens. Right now, I’m not too worried about. I’ve still got a lot to prove in my career, and really the last thing on my mind is a contract extension.”

He’s only played in 75 games at the MLB level, but Bichette looks the part of an All-Star right now. The former top prospect has put together a .307/.347/549 slash with 16 home runs, 27 doubles, a triple and eight steals through his first 340 trips to the plate. He won’t be eligible for arbitration until after the 2022 season and is controlled all the way through 2025, however, so there’s ample time for the Jays to worry about financial matters down the road. Of course, the more Bichette established himself and the closer he inches to arbitration or free agency, the more the price tag on an extension will rise.

A couple more notes on the Jays…

  • Right-hander Matt Shoemaker also joined The Good Show this week to chat about his time with the organization and his upcoming venture into free agency. The 34-year-old was dominant in five starts with the Blue Jays in 2019 before suffering a torn ACL that ended his season. He returned in 2020 with lesser results, but Shoemaker’s overall body of work in Toronto was solid: 11 starts, 57 1/3 frames, 3.14 ERA, 4.30 xFIP, 50-to-18 K/BB, 49.7 percent ground-ball rate. Home runs were a huge issue in 2020, but Shoemaker could represent a reasonably affordable piece of rotation depth and made clear that he’d love to return. “I just want to go to a team that’s just hungry, right?” said Shoemaker. “And the Jays are hungry, man. Like, we’ve got this really young team who just love the game, fiery players, really talented.”
  • Toronto GM Ross Atkins said at season’s end that the Jays haven’t given up on the idea of Vladimir Guerrero Jr. being able to play some third base, even if he’s not a primary option there. The Toronto Star’s Gregor Chisholm makes a case against prioritizing versatility in this case and opines that Guerrero should simply be left to try to hone his craft at first base. Chisholm notes that defensive metrics and the eye test alike have panned Guerrero at both positions but likens Guerrero’s move across the diamond to the one made by Edwin Encarnacion several years ago — a move that eventually resulted in Encarnacion putting up some solid defensive marks at the less-demanding position. Guerrero still needs to develop better instincts at the spot, and getting regular reps at the spot should help.
Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Jonathan Villar Switches Representation]]> 2020-10-16T12:32:51Z 2020-10-16T00:01:37Z Blue Jays infielder Jonathan Villar has changed agencies and is now a client of Wasserman, Robert Murray reports. He’d previously been with MDR Sports Management. MLBTR has made note of the switch in our Agency Database.

The change in representation comes at a key time for Villar, who’s on the cusp of free agency. He’s on track to join Didi Gregorius, Andrelton Simmons, Marcus Semien, Freddy Galvis and Korea’s Ha-Seong Kim as some of the most recognizable shortstop-capable players on the open market.

Now 29 years old, Villar has posted quality seasons in the past (including a 4.0-fWAR showing with the Orioles in 2019), but he’s due to reach the open market off a poor campaign. Between Miami and Toronto, the latter of which acquired him before the Aug. 31 trade deadline, the switch-hitting Villar recorded a paltry .232/.301/.292 line with two home runs in 207 plate appearances in 2020. But with 16 stolen bases, it was the fifth straight season in which Villar swiped double-digit bags, and he did continue to flash defensive versatility by accruing well over 100 innings at both middle infield spots.

Anthony Franco <![CDATA[Latest On Blue Jays' Pitching Plans]]> 2020-10-14T02:05:08Z 2020-10-14T02:05:08Z
  • The Blue Jays acquired Ross Stripling from the Dodgers at this year’s trade deadline, but the right-hander struggled in 15.2 innings after the deal. Nevertheless, he’s likely to be a key piece of the Toronto pitching staff in 2021, Kaitlyn McGrath of the Athletic believes. GM Ross Atkins specifically mentioned Stripling when discussing the team’s pitching options, McGrath notes, suggesting there’s not much of a chance he’ll be non-tendered this offseason. That’s not surprising, as Stripling is likely only in line for a small raise on this season’s modest $2.1MM salary.
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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[How The Jays Benefited From The Alternate Training Site]]> 2020-10-13T20:05:13Z 2020-10-13T19:58:57Z
  • The use of an alternate training site was an imperfect solution to the lack of a minor league baseball season, though some teams found some pluses to the approach.  As Laura Armstrong of the Toronto Star writes, the adjustments made by such players as Alejandro Kirk and T.J. Zeuch allowed them to contribute at the big league level and become part of the Blue Jays’ plans for 2021.  While Jays GM Ross Atkins wants to see traditional minor league ball back, Atkins said “I do feel like we were able to make some really targeted progress” with prospects at the alternate site.  The Jays plan to carry over some developmental processes from the alternate site once minor league baseball eventually resumes.
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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Could Randal Grichuk Be A Trade Candidate?]]> 2020-10-07T04:20:21Z 2020-10-07T04:19:13Z
  • The Blue Jays face a lot of possibilities as they look to upgrade their roster this offseason, and the Toronto Star’s Gregor Chisholm explores several of those options as part of a reader mailbag piece.  In Chisholm’s opinion, the Jays should consider trying to move Randal Grichuk in order to improve the outfield defense and to get some of Grichuk’s contract off the books — Grichuk is owed $29MM through the 2023 season.  Grichuk is an imperfect fit as a center fielder but he did rebound from a tough 2019 to hit .273/.312/.481 with 12 homers (112 wRC+, 114 OPS+) over 231 PA this season, so that offensive production could attract some trade suitors.
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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Ross Atkins Discusses Blue Jays’ Offseason]]> 2020-10-03T15:46:36Z 2020-10-03T15:46:36Z After a 95-loss season in 2019, the Blue Jays’ rebuild began to bear fruit in 2020 as the team went 32-28 and earned a wild card playoff berth.  This result has left the Jays eager for more, and general manager Ross Atkins told reporters (including’s Keegan Matheson and’s Shi Davidi) that despite all the financial uncertainty caused by the pandemic, “the quickest way to recovery is winning.  The quickest way to getting our business back to a very good financial spot is winning and our ownership knows that.”

    The Blue Jays have their own unique set of revenue issues to deal with heading into 2021, such as not yet knowing if they’ll be permitted to play in Toronto next season.  In terms of pure player payroll, however, the Jays are in better shape than most teams.  The Blue Jays have less than $54MM on the books for next season since so many of Toronto’s key players have yet to reach salary arbitration, or (like Teoscar Hernandez) are only just entering the arb process for the first time.

    This flexibility allows the Jays to pursue upgrades in several different ways, and Atkins didn’t rule out the possibility of another big-splash acquisition like the Hyun Jin Ryu signing last offseason.  “I think we are in a position where we could add to this team with talent that is condensed in one player and a super high impact….We’re going to continue to think about how we can build upon this group, and hopefully it’s both complementary as well as making as making a really high impact,” Atkins said.

    Speaking of the broader offseason landscape, Atkins noted that “the COVID-19 pandemic hit the finances of different clubs in different ways, creating an extremely uncertain outlook as we eventually approach free agency.  Some believe this could open up the trade market, with teams more willing to use prospects over cash to acquire talent entering 2021.”  It’s safe to assume the Blue Jays will look into both trades and free agent signings, though Atkins’ comment could be interpreted in two different ways — the Jays could be one of those teams that prefer trades to signings, or they could use their payroll space to be more aggressive in free agency if other clubs are holding back.

    Looking at the 2020-21 free agent class, such names as J.T. Realmuto, Trevor Bauer, George Springer, and DJ LeMahieu stand out at the top of the market, if Toronto planned to look into the very upper tier of available players.  Since Ryu and Nate Pearson seem like the only locks for next year’s Jays rotation, pitching is an obvious need, so the Blue Jays could be more apt to explore signing Bauer or a known AL East commodity in Masahiro Tanaka.  Re-signing Taijuan Walker wouldn’t be as expensive as those other names, though Walker is sure to attract a lot of attention given how well he pitched in 2020, particularly after joining the Blue Jays at the trade deadline.

    In regards to position players, Atkins said the front office will “stay open-minded” about possible additions.  Davidi speculates that shortstop could be a target position, as the Jays have had interest in free agents Andrelton Simmons and Didi Gregorius in the past, and the club could also revisit trade talks with the Indians over Francisco LindorBo Bichette would move off shortstop in this scenario, with Bichette and Cavan Biggio likely handling second and third base in some combination.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Ken Giles Undergoes Tommy John Surgery]]> 2020-10-01T17:37:35Z 2020-10-01T17:20:47Z Oct. 1: Giles’ surgery was performed yesterday, tweets MLB Network’s Jon Heyman. It’s hard to imagine him pitching much in 2021 — if at all.

    Sept. 21: Blue Jays closer Ken Giles, plagued by arm injuries throughout the season, is headed for Tommy John surgery that will quite likely wipe out the entirety of his 2021 campaign as well. Giles first announced the move via his wife’s Instagram account, and Toronto skipper Charlie Montoyo has confirmed as much, per ESPN’s Marly Rivera (Twitter link).

    Giles’ arm problems date back to last season, when elbow issues prevented him from changing hands around the 2019 deadline in July. Giles looked like a prime candidate to move before then, as he was among the majors’ most dominant relievers. Toronto had to retain the hard-throwing right-hander as a result of his health woes, and the club could now lose him for nothing in the next couple months.

    Giles logged a sterling 1.87 ERA/2.27 FIP with 14.09 K/9 and 2.89 BB/9 in 53 innings last year, and an encore could have put him in line for a qualifying offer and an expensive contract during the upcoming offseason. Instead, Giles was unable to follow up and could only throw 3 2/3 innings of four-run ball in 2020. Neither a QO nor a high-paying deal figure to be in the cards for Giles in the coming months, then.

    Toronto, to its credit, has fared well this year despite few contributions from Giles. The club is 27-26 and in line for a playoff spot without Giles, who will now face an especially uncertain future as the former Phillie and Astro heads into free agency for the first time. The Jays acquired him from the Astros in a deal for fellow reliever Roberto Osuna in July 2018.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Blue Jays Announce Wild Card Series Roster]]> 2020-09-29T18:13:49Z 2020-09-29T18:13:49Z The Blue Jays announced their 28-man roster for their wild card series with the Rays, beginning today in Tampa Bay.  Matt Shoemaker gets the Game 1 start for Toronto while Hyun Jin Ryu is scheduled for Game 2, as the Jays opted to give Ryu an extra day of rest heading into an all-important postseason start.

    Taijuan Walker is expected to start Game 3 if necessary, and the Jays are expected to make liberal use of their bullpen throughout the series.  The relief corps won’t include Jordan Romano, who is still out of action with a finger injury.  Left-hander Anthony Kay was called up from the alternate training site on the weekend and will stay as added left-handed depth in the bullpen.

    After hitting the injured list with a right knee strain back on September 9, Rowdy Tellez has been activated for the playoff roster, though he isn’t in Game 1’s starting lineup.  Alejandro Kirk will get the start at DH, as the Jays hope the rookie’s hot right-handed bat can counter Rays southpaw Blake Snell.  Kirk is one of three catchers on the roster, though Kirk may end up seeing more time at DH, leaving Danny Jansen and Reese McGuire with the bulk of duties behind the plate.

    Left-Handed Pitchers

    Right-Handed Pitchers




    • Danny Jansen
    • Alejandro Kirk
    • Reese McGuire
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Wilmer Font Elects Free Agency]]> 2020-09-29T13:51:18Z 2020-09-29T13:40:13Z Sept. 29: Font rejected the outright assignment in favor of free agency, tweets Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet. He’d have had the right to do so after the postseason anyhow, barring a surprise addition back onto the roster.

    Sept. 28: Blue Jays righty Wilmer Font cleared waivers and was outrighted off the 40-man roster, per the transactions log at Font remains in the club’s 60-man player pool, however, and because he was on the team’s initially listed playoff player pool, he’d be eligible to pitch in the postseason should injuries prompt a need to select him back to the 40-man roster. That’s assuming Font accepts the outright assignment, of course. He does have the right to reject the assignment both by virtue of service time (three-plus years) and having previously been outrighted (back in 2014).

    Font, 30, has pitched for five different clubs over the past three seasons, seeing time with each of the Dodgers, Athletics, Mets, Rays and Blue Jays while bouncing around the DFA circuit. He spent all of 2020 with the Jays but was tagged for 18 earned run in just 16 1/3 innings. Eight of those earned runs came in a pair of four-run meltdowns, but Font wasn’t exactly reliable even setting those two drubbings aside. He made 21 relief appearances this season, only three lasting more than an inning, and surrendered runs in nine of them.

    Font has above-average velocity and solid spin rates on his heater and hook, all of which has contributed to five clubs rolling the dice on him since 2018 despite a lack of consistent success. Font did notch a sub-2.00 ERA in 27 frames with the 2018 Rays, but he struggled through 14 innings with Tampa Bay the next season before being cut loose. Overall, he’s pitched 151 2/3 innings in the big leagues but has just a 5.82 ERA and 5.41 FIP to show for his efforts.

    TC Zencka <![CDATA[MLB Finalizes 16-Team Playoff Bracket]]> 2020-09-28T02:00:04Z 2020-09-27T23:53:32Z With a hectic final day of play in the books, the 2020 playoff field is officially set – which visual learners can view here from MLB Network. The defending World Series champion Nationals and their newly-crowned batting champion Juan Soto will watch from home.  The Mets and Phillies turned in disappointing seasons, while the Marlins stunned their NL East counterparts to enter the postseason as the #6 seed in the National League. The Braves weathered a line change in their starting rotation to win their third consecutive NL East title.

    Elsewhere in the National League, Dodgers are the team to beat, while the Padres are the team to watch. The Rockies and Diamondbacks will face some hard questions in the offseason after disappointing years, while the Giants exceeded expectations but narrowly missed the postseason.

    The Central makes up half the playoff field in the National League with everyone but the Pirates continuing into MLB’s second season. The Cubs took home their third division title in five seasons behind stellar years from Yu Darvish and Kyle Hendricks, but it was a difficult season for many of their core offensive players. They were also the only team in the majors to go the entire season without a single player testing positive for COVID-19, per NBC Sports Chicago and others. The Cardinals will be the #5 seed after playing two fewer games than the rest of the league, Trevor Bauer led the Reds back to the postseason by winning the NL ERA title (in a free agent year no less), and the Brewers backed into the NL’s #8 seed without ever being above .500 in 2020.

    In the American League, small markets had themselves a year. The A’s took the AL West back from the defending AL champion Astros. Speaking of, Houston finished a tumultuous year without their ace Justin Verlander. Manager Dusty Baker will lead his fifth different team to the postseason, this one joining the Brewers as one of two under-.500 teams to reach the postseason. The Angels will reboot after firing their GM earlier today, while the Rangers and Mariners continue their rebuilds.

    The Rays, meanwhile, won the AL East for the first time in a decade and they’re the top seed in the American League. The Yankees settle for second place and the Blue Jays arrive to the postseason a little earlier than expected as the AL’s #8 seed. The Red Sox took an expected step back, while the Orioles performed better than expected, staying in the playoff hunt for most of the season.

    The Twins lost in extras today, but they nonetheless secured their second consecutive AL Central title. Shane Bieber put up a potentially MVP season to get the Indians back to the playoffs. The White Sox arrived in a major way led by Tim Anderson and Jose Abreu. Only a late season slide kept them from a division crown. They’ll head to Oakland as the #7 seed. The Tigers debuted a number of players they hope will be a part of their next competitive team, while the Royals said goodbye to a franchise icon in Alex Gordon’s final season.

    It was a short and bizarre season, but the playoffs – while expanded – aren’t going to be all that different from most years. There will be neutral sites and a wild card round of 3-game series, and playoff bubbles, but once the field is pared down to eight, it’s more or less business as usual for the postseason. It should be an exciting month of October.

    Here’s the final field of 16:

    National League

    (8) Brewers at (1) Dodgers

    (5) Cardinals at (4) Padres

    (6) Marlins at (3) Cubs

    (7) Reds at (2) Braves

    American League

    (8) Blue Jays at (1) Rays

    (5) Yankees at (4) Indians

    (6) Astros at (3) Twins

    (7) White Sox at (2) A’s

    The playoffs begin on Tuesday, September 29.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Latest On Rowdy Tellez ]]> 2020-09-26T00:18:46Z 2020-09-26T00:18:46Z
  • The Blue Jays don’t expect first baseman/designated hitter Rowdy Tellez to be ready for the wild-card playoff round, GM Ross Atkins told Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet and other reporters. Tellez has been on the IL with a right knee strain since Sept. 9. He put up a career-best .283/.346/.540 line with eight homers in 127 plate appearances before then.
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Blue Jays Activate Nate Pearson, Designate Wilmer Font]]> 2020-09-24T22:20:00Z 2020-09-24T22:16:45Z 5:16pm: Toronto has designated Font for assignment, Nicholson-Smith tweets.

    3:39pm: The Blue Jays are activating right-hander Nate Pearson from the 10-day injured list and removing fellow righty Wilmer Font from their roster, Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet was among those to report. It’s not clear what the Blue Jays will do with Font, but he’s out of minor league options, so they can’t send him down without possibly losing him.

    Pearson, one of the game’s elite pitching prospects, hasn’t taken the mound since Aug. 18 because of elbow tightness. It’s obviously a relief for him and the team that he’s ready to return just over a month after that, as elbow problems often lead to far longer absences.

    The 24-year-old Pearson made four appearances, all starts, for Toronto before going on the IL, but the club’s set to break him back in as a reliever, per Nicholson-Smith. Despite averaging 96.1 mph on his fastball, Pearson has struggled to a 6.51 ERA/7.65 FIP with 7.71 K/9 and 6.61 BB/9 in 16 1/3 innings this season.

    Font, 30, has been a liability for Toronto in 16 1/3 innings this year. He owns a bloated 9.77 ERA (with a much more palatable 4.77 FIP) and 8.27 K/9 against 4.96 BB/9. Font has been victimized by a .448 batting average on balls in play against, though he also ranks toward the bottom of the league in several important Statcast categories.

    TC Zencka <![CDATA[Blue Jays Pitching Updates: Shoemaker, Pearson, Romano]]> 2020-09-20T23:25:53Z 2020-09-20T20:07:30Z After a rough three-game sweep at the hands of the Yankees, the Toronto Blue Jays have lost six in a row and fallen into the final qualifying wild card spot in the American League. Now trailing the Yankees by 5 games for second place, the Toronto/Buffalo Blue Jays are pretty well locked into their current spot in the standings, with Fangraphs giving them a 0.9% chance to re-take 2nd place from the Yankees, but a 91.5% chance to hold off the Mariners, Angels, and Tigers for the final playoff spot in the American League postseason bracket. Though they share a record with the Astros, Houston should secure 2nd place in the AL West. The Indians are currently the other wild card team, and they hold a 2 game lead over the Blue Jays with 8 games remaining.

    That sets up Toronto for a first-round, 3-game series with the Rays, White Sox, or A’s, with Tampa holding the top spot if the season ended this minute. Hyun Jin Ryu would figure to start the first game of any playoff series, but the rest of the rotation is open to interpretation. With improving health, however, the Jays are on the cusp of adding a few more options to the stable.

    Matt Shoemaker has thrown upwards of 60 pitches while preparing to return to the team, which he could do any day now, per Ben Nicholson-Smith of (via Twitter). Shoemaker has 5 starts under his belt in 2020 with an average of just over 5 innings per start and a 4.91 ERA/6.11 FIP. 8.8 K/9 is a strong mark for Shoemaker, but he’s been doomed by the long ball with 2.8 HR/9. In terms of the playoffs, Shoemaker’s role is up in the air, but he’ll return to the rotation to make a start against the Yankees on Monday, per Shi Davidi of

    The Blue Jays remain hopeful that hard-throwing right-hander Nate Pearson will return before the end of the season as well. Should he return, the Jays will use him for 1 to 2 innings at a time, presumably because there’s not enough time to work him back to full-strength before the playoffs. Pitching Coach Pete Walker reports a return to normal velocity levels for Pearson, per Nicholson-Smith, who suggests Pearson could work in relief to Tom Hatch or Julian Merryweather.

    Regardless, the Blue Jays look as though they’ll be piecing together the rotation game-by-game following Ryu. Given their heavy reliance on the pen, a return from Jordan Romano will certainly help. Romano should throw off a mound shortly, and the Blue Jays are hopeful to see him back in their bullpen for the playoffs, per Nicholson-Smith. Romano, 27, enjoyed a breakout 15 appearances before hitting the injured list with a right middle finger strain. He’s been worth 1.1 rWAR with a 1.23 ERA/3.12 FIP and 12.9 K/9 to 3.1 BB/9 while picking up 2 saves and 5 holds.