Delabar, Choate don't make Blue Jays' bullpen

Right-hander released; lefty considering assignment with Buffalo

March 29th, 2016
An All-Star with Toronto in 2013, right-hander Steve Delabar was released by the Blue Jays on Tuesday. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)Frank Gunn/AP

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- The alignment of Toronto's bullpen gained some clarity Tuesday morning, when right-hander Steve Delabar was given his unconditional release and veteran lefty Randy Choate was informed he would not make the 25-man roster.

Delabar will now seek an opportunity with another team, but the Blue Jays have asked Choate to consider accepting an assignment with Triple-A Buffalo. Toronto manager John Gibbons said that Choate intends to take a couple of days before making a decision.

The final three spots in the bullpen will be chosen from a group that includes Ryan Tepera, Pat Venditte, Joe Biagini and Arnold Leon. Delabar, who was out of options on his contract, said Tuesday's decision hardly came as a surprise and there are no hard feelings.

"I thanked them for the opportunity," Delabar said. "The last year and a half or so hasn't been as smooth as possible, but I thank them for bringing me in and giving me an opportunity to get innings, get myself back out there.

"I felt like I had a good enough spring that I could have made the team, but they didn't see it that way. And I'm OK with it, because I feel like my body is where I need it to be, my stuff is back and I might be able to get another opportunity with another team."

Delabar's reaction was a stark contrast to the way he handled the situation last year, when he was visibly upset by the club's decision; the right-hander thought he was a lock to make the team, only to be told he would instead be pitching for Buffalo.

The last two years have been rather tumultuous, but Delabar can still look back fondly on his time in Toronto. Six years ago, he was working as a substitute teacher until the Mariners offered him a contract and later dealt him to the Blue Jays. With Toronto, Delabar went 12-7 with a 3.97 ERA and 179 strikeouts over 143 innings, and he put up an All-Star season in 2013.

"I had a lot of fun," Delabar said. "I played with a lot of guys, veteran guys who have retired now, a lot of teammates have gone elsewhere. It has been a lot of fun to see where the team was when I got here, to where it is now and the future of this team. You wish nothing but the best of luck to these guys and the future that they're going to have."

The 40-year-old Choate allowed two hits and one walk over 1 2/3 innings with the Blue Jays this spring. It's possible he could figure into the club's plans later in the year if he decides to go to Buffalo.

"He gets his release," Gibbons said. "We want him to go down to pitch in Buffalo, but that's his choice. He's going to give it some thought."