Blue Jays claim Payamps; Yamaguchi DFA'd
TORONTO -- The Blue Jays have claimed right-hander Joel Payamps off waivers from the Red Sox, the club announced Thursday.
In a corresponding move, the Blue Jays designated right-hander Shun Yamaguchi for assignment. Yamaguchi signed a two-year deal with Toronto last offseason and carries a $3.175 million salary for 2021, but he struggled in his debut season in the Major Leagues.
Payamps, 26, made brief Major League appearances with the D-backs in 2019 and '20, then he was claimed off waivers by the Red Sox in November. The right-hander has worked almost exclusively as a starter in the Minor Leagues, owning a 3.67 ERA over 223 innings at Double-A and a 5.42 ERA over 76 1/3 innings at the Triple-A level.
The Blue Jays will continue to face a 40-man roster squeeze given their depth, but Payamps likely profiles as upper-Minors rotation depth, which does have some organizational value.
Toronto’s 2021 rotation picture could be simplified by the addition of another top-end starter, but until then, it’s possible the club will lean on multiple arms at the back end or get creative with a piggyback strategy, for example. Regardless of how it all shakes out, when you factor in the need for some multi-inning bullpen arms, several of Toronto’s young starters could be called upon, including Trent Thornton, Anthony Kay, Thomas Hatch, Julian Merryweather and TJ Zeuch. Behind that group, Triple-A Buffalo's rotation will need some steady innings as those names cycle in and out.
Over his three innings in 2020, Statcast measured Payamps’ average four-seam fastball at 94.2 mph, to go along with a slider and a changeup.
The Yamaguchi news isn’t where anyone expected him to land one year into this two-year deal, but the Blue Jays were forced to make that difficult decision after the right-hander struggled to begin his Major League career after coming over from Japan. Yamaguchi posted an 8.06 ERA over 25 2/3 innings, including six home runs allowed and 17 walks.
Yamaguchi came to the Blue Jays with the ability to start or pitch in a variety of multi-inning bullpen roles, but he fell behind some of the club's young arms coming out of Spring Training and was mostly limited to lower-leverage innings in 2020.
Toronto’s 40-man roster remains full at 40, meaning any Major League moves that follow will require a similar accompanying move to free up a spot.