Guide to remaining free agent left-handers Blue Jays could pursue

MLB insider Shi Davidi joins Jeff Blair to discuss whether the Blue Jays should spend money on the bullpen, preferably a lefty specialist, or should they look to get a left-handed outfielder to platoon with Melvin Upton Jr.?

TORONTO – With just three weeks remaining before spring training, the Toronto Blue Jays are getting closer to completing their off-season shopping.

In the last week they signed Jose Bautista and agreed to a minor-league contract with Jarrod Saltalamacchia, but there’s still one hole on the projected 2017 roster: left-handed relief. Along with a handful of other clubs, the Blue Jays continue exploring that segment of the free agent market in the hopes of adding to their bullpen.

At this point, some quality options are still out there. Here’s a closer look at how they compare…

JERRY BLEVINS
Age: 33
2016 team: Mets
2016 stats:  2.79 ERA, 73 games, 42 innings, 15 walks, 52 strikeouts, 46% ground ball rate
Average fastball velocity:  89.0 mph
Potential suitors: Mets, Blue Jays, Giants, Indians, Marlins

A true left-on-left specialist, Blevins appears poised to land a multi-year deal after excelling with the Mets in 2016. He generates strikeouts and has held left-handed batters to a .214/.266/.322 batting line over 10 big league seasons. He’ll be pricey relative to other options here, but there’s something to be said for obtaining an established lefty.

The Blue Jays showed interest in Blevins as early as November, and the sides have stayed in touch.

BOONE LOGAN
Age: 32
2016 team: Rockies
2016 stats:  3.69 ERA, 66 games, 46.1 innings, 20 walks, 57 strikeouts, 49.5% ground ball rate
Average fastball velocity:  93.1 mph
Potential suitors: Mets, Blue Jays, Giants, Indians, Marlins

Logan’s an established left-hander with experience in the AL East, but there are a couple of concerns worth considering. He has averaged 4.0 walks per nine innings over the course of the last five years, for one. And immediately after signing his first multi-year free agent deal, a three-year, $16.5 million contract with Colorado, he promptly posted a 6.84 ERA.

All of that said, he throws hard and has a long track record of success. Expect Logan to land a lucrative deal. For what it’s worth, one executive suggested this month that Antonio Bastardo’s two-year, $12 million contract could be a relevant comp for Logan and Blevins.

TRAVIS WOOD
Age: 29
2016 team: Cubs
2016 stats: 2.95 ERA, 77 games, 61 innings, 24 walks, 47 strikeouts, 37% ground ball rate
Average fastball velocity: 90.5 mph
Potential suitors: Padres, Nationals, Cubs, Blue Jays, Marlins

In theory, Wood makes sense for the Blue Jays. Left-handers have hit just .206/.276/.316 against Wood during his career, so he’s a potential fit as a matchup reliever. Plus, his experience as a starter adds versatility (he posted a 3.11 ERA in 200 innings during an All-Star 2013 season). That’s the problem for Toronto, though. Industry observers expect Wood to seek a starting job, and the Blue Jays can’t offer one.

CRAIG BRESLOW
Age: 36
2016 team: Marlins
2016 stats: 4.50 ERA, 15 games, 14 innings, 4 walks, 7 strikeouts, 29% ground ball rate
Average fastball velocity: 89.5 mph
Potential suitors: Blue Jays, Mets, Reds, Rockies, Indians, Giants

A recent Breslow showcase drew the attention of a wide range of scouts. The Blue Jays are among the teams with interest in Breslow, who’s looking to bounce back from a disappointing 2016 season by trying out a lower arm slot. Unlike the three pitchers above, he could conceivably be available on a non-guaranteed deal with incentives.

ADDITIONAL CANDIDATES
The free agent market also includes Charlie Furbush, Javier Lopez and J.P. Howell, all of whom have extensive MLB experience.

Alternatively, teams could turn to the trade market, where Justin Wilson of the Tigers and Tony Watson of the Pirates are among the more intriguing options.

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