Toronto will send Arizona two players to be named later in the deal, its final before the Trade Deadline.
Soria, now 37 and in his 14th season, has posted a 4.30 ERA over 29 1/3 innings this season for the D-backs, striking out 31. Soria’s peripheral numbers and velocities are all right in line with his career averages, too, so this is a sensible, low-risk addition for Toronto to help stabilize its bullpen. Soria comes with postseason experience, too, pitching in four October playoffs.
“His experiences and the different roles he’s pitched in, the teams he’s been on, the pressure he’s pitched under and the strike throwing,” said general manager Ross Atkins, listing the appeals of Soria. “Obviously, we’ve heard incredible things about the teammate as well, but the strike-throwing ability and experiences, in combination, will allow us to have another option in that ‘pen.”
This rounds out a busy month-plus for the Blue Jays and their efforts to improve a struggling bullpen. That’s included the additions of Trevor Richards and Adam Cimber, the submarining right-hander who’s been particularly good since coming over from the Marlins. Those moves, like Soria, are aimed to raise the floor of the group and give manager Charlie Montoyo more reliable options in the late innings, but the addition of Brad Hand was made to raise the ceiling.
With improved depth and talent in the bullpen, Toronto now needs to piece together its best group. It’s no longer a question of who’s healthy or available, but who its best eight or nine options are.
The Blue Jays haven’t committed to a set closer under Montoyo, and that’s carried in 2021. Kirby Yates was in line for that role before he went down with an injury that required Tommy John surgery this spring, then Julian Merryweather hit the IL after a week-long audition. Jordan Romano has been the club’s closest pitcher to fitting the definition, but Hand, even with his track record in the ninth inning, expects his role to be flexible after speaking with Montoyo.
“Late-inning situations, whether it’s the ninth, eighth, seventh, just late-inning situations when we have a chance to win a ballgame,” Hand said. “That’s where he sees me fitting in.”
This group could get some reinforcements down the stretch, too. Top prospect Nate Pearson has missed most of the season with recurring groin injuries, and he was recently diagnosed with a sports hernia, but Toronto is optimistic that he can build back up in a relief role for August and September. The big right-hander touches 100 mph and has wipeout secondary pitches when he’s healthy -- which the Blue Jays haven’t seen much of lately -- but it’s easier to dream on that potential after additions like Cimber, Soria and Hand stabilize the present.