Source: Blue Jays sign reliever Alburquerque
Veteran righty reportedly agrees to Minors deal with Spring Training invite
TORONTO -- The Blue Jays reportedly added more depth to their bullpen on Thursday by signing veteran right-hander Al Alburquerque to a Minor League deal with an invitation to Spring Training.
Toronto has yet to officially announce the non-guaranteed deal, which was first reported by Sportsnet. Alburquerque gives the Blue Jays another option in middle relief and he is expected to compete for a job when camp gets under way next month in Dunedin, Fla.
The 31-year-old spent last season with the White Sox and Royals. He posted a combined 2.50 ERA over 18 innings and he boasts a 3.16 ERA in 245 career big league innings. Alburquerque primarily uses a slider, which he threw 54 percent of the time in 2017, according to Statcast™.
Alburquerque likely intrigues the Blue Jays because of his ability to generate swings and misses. He has struck out 10.7 batters per nine innings over the course of his career, a skill that will be crucial in a division that features feared right-handed hitters such as Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge.
The signing is a low-risk proposition, and there's no guarantee that Alburquerque will break camp with the Blue Jays. Toronto currently has Roberto Osuna, Dennis Tepera, Danny Barnes, Dominic Leone and possibly Aaron Loup for the bullpen. Another spot will be reserved for a long reliever, which likely leaves one other position up for grabs during Spring Training.
Alburquerque will receive competition from rookie Carlos Ramirez and possibly lefty Tim Mayza this spring. Toronto also is expected to continue adding depth in the coming weeks, which should complicate this situation even more. Ultimately, if Alburquerque performs well enough, he could force the Blue Jays to option one of their young controllable arms to the Minors.
With less than a month remaining until the start of Spring Training, the Blue Jays remain in the market for a starting pither, another outfielder and likely more depth options for the bullpen on Minor League deals.