Blue Jays fortify bullpen with Bass, Pop from Marlins

Swingman White added in last-minute deal with the Dodgers

August 2nd, 2022

TORONTO -- The Blue Jays remodeled their bullpen ahead of Tuesday’s Trade Deadline, acquiring relievers Zach Pop and Anthony Bass from the Marlins, then swingman Mitch White in a later deal with the Dodgers.

The biggest piece moved by the Blue Jays on Tuesday is Jordan Groshans, the No. 4 prospect in their system, to the Marlins. In the Dodgers deal, Toronto sent high-upside right-hander Nick Frasso and lefty Moises Brito. The Blue Jays also received infield prospect Alex De Jesus from the Dodgers in that deal.

Blue Jays get: RHPs Anthony Bass, Zach Pop
Marlins get: SS/3B Jordan Groshans (Blue Jays' No. 4 prospect/No. 82 overall)

In Pop, from Brampton, Ontario, the Blue Jays add another Canadian alongside closer Jordan Romano, and the 25-year-old right-hander comes with team control through the end of the 2026 season. This mirrors the Adam Cimber acquisition by Toronto last summer from this same Marlins club, when it targeted a long-term bullpen piece.

Pop is an interesting fit in this bullpen, too, not necessarily representing the swing-and-miss reliever many expected the Blue Jays to target. Pop has a strikeout rate of 7.8 K/9 over 74 2/3 MLB innings, including a 3.60 ERA this season, but he produces ground-ball contact at an incredible rate (63.8% in 2022), leaning heavily on a sinker that averages 96.5 mph.

“It’s pretty special to be able to go back home, see my family and play for the Blue Jays,” Pop said. “I’ve got a lot of friends and a lot of people rooting for them right now. To be a part of what they’re doing up there right now is pretty amazing. They’ve got a great team over there, and I’m lucky to be a part of it. They’re doing some special things.”

Bass, of course, will be a familiar name for Blue Jays fans. The right-hander spent 2020 with Toronto, stepping in to close games at one point when Ken Giles went down, and he’s enjoying a career year with the Marlins, posting a 1.41 ERA over 44 2/3 innings with 45 strikeouts.

The 34-year-old comes with a $3 million club option for 2023 that includes a $1 million buyout. Both Bass and Pop will add to the Blue Jays’ crowded group of setup arms used in front of Romano, a group that includes Cimber, Yimi Garcia, David Phelps and Tim Mayza. This allows Toronto to stretch some of that depth into the earlier innings, bridging the gap from starters.

Bass said that he and Pop had already received a text from Cimber, and he also knows Garcia well from their time together in 2021. Toronto’s bullpen has turned into Miami North.

“I’m going to a team with a chance to make the postseason, which, as players, is what we always want to do,” Bass said. “Our end goal is to win a World Series, so that part is exciting, going to Toronto for that opportunity. Obviously, it’s a familiar place. I was with them in 2020, so it will be a nice transition for me.”

Talented relievers with team control don’t come cheap, though, which is why the Blue Jays had to deal Groshans, their No. 4 prospect and No. 82 in MLB, according to MLB Pipeline.

Groshans was the Blue Jays’ first-round pick in the 2018 Draft, No. 12 overall, and he got out to a strong start in the lower Minors. Following an injury-shortened ’21 season with Double-A New Hampshire, where he hit .291 with an .817 OPS, Groshans has been searching for his power this season in Triple-A Buffalo.

There, the 22-year-old has hit .250, and while his .348 on-base percentage shows an improved plate approach, Groshans has hit just one home run over 67 games. The power is certainly in there for the gifted young player who was turning heads in Spring Training with his exit velocities, but Groshans had clearly been overtaken by Orelvis Martinez as the organization’s top infield prospect. He’ll now have a greater opportunity in the Marlins’ organization.

Including right-hander Gunnar Hoglund (2021) and infielder Austin Martin (’20), the Blue Jays have now traded three of their four first-round picks from the ’18-21 Drafts.

White brings shades of Stripling deal

There’s something familiar about this trade for the Blue Jays. Two seasons ago, they acquired Ross Stripling from the Dodgers, bringing him over with team control remaining and the ability to swing between the bullpen and rotation, which Toronto actively covets.

Now, it’s White’s turn.

Blue Jays get:
RHP Mitch White, INF Ivan De Jesus
Marlins get: RHP Nick Frasso, LHP Moises Brito

The 27-year-old White is under team control through the end of the 2027 season, so this is a short- and a long-term move for the Blue Jays, much like Stripling was at the time. Since ’20, Stripling has bounced between roles admirably and, by stepping into Hyun Jin Ryu’s rotation spot this summer, has quietly been one of the more valuable members of this roster.

White owns a 3.70 ERA this season over 10 starts and five relief appearances, averaging 7.6 strikeouts per nine innings. He’s been in a starting role with L.A. since late May, and will now be a part of Toronto’s rotation depth and bulk relief picture alongside Yusei Kikuchi, who looked stronger in his recent return to the rotation.

Frasso, the big 23-year-old, is the intriguing piece going the other way. Frasso returned this season from UCL surgery that used an internal brace -- not quite a full Tommy John elbow reconstruction procedure -- and has posted a 0.74 ERA with 57 strikeouts over 36 2/3 innings between Single-A and High-A, touching 100 mph with his fastball.