Blue Jays add to bullpen, agree to two-year, $11M deal with Yimi Garcia

Former Houston Astros relief pitcher Yimi Garcia has agreed to a two-year contract with the Toronto Blue Jays. (Ashley Landis/AP)

TORONTO -- The Toronto Blue Jays and reliever Yimi Garcia are in agreement on an $11-million, two-year deal that includes a club option and is pending a physical, according to an industry source.

Garcia, 31, is the club’s first major addition of the off-season and will bolster the back-end of a bullpen that was a trouble-spot for key stretches of 2021.

The deal, which is expected to be finalized in the next few days, includes a $1 million signing bonus and salaries of $4 million in 2022 and $5 million in 2023. A 2024 option vests at $6 million with either 110 games combined in the first two years or 60 innings or games in ‘23, otherwise it’s a $5 million club option with a $1 million buyout.

There are also bonuses of $250,000 at each of 50 and 55 innings plus another $500,000 at 60 innings.

A right-hander from Moca, Dominican Republic, he split last season between the Miami Marlins, where he converted 15 of 18 save opportunities and pitched to a 3.47 ERA in 39 games, and the Houston Astros, where he had a 5.48 ERA but a 1.078 WHIP and 10.5 strikeouts per nine innings over 23 games.

With the Blue Jays, he’ll fit into the late-game mix with closer Jordan Romano, lefty Tim Mayza and righties Adam Cimber and Trevor Richards.

Garcia’s fastball, with a 95th percentile spin rate, averaged 96 m.p.h. last year and generated a 26.8 whiff rate. A slider that was missed 27.9 per cent of the time is his primary secondary pitch, though he also has a curveball and seldom-used changeup, too.

Meanwhile, a tweet from Jon Morosi of the MLB Network said the Blue Jays are one finalist for right-hander Kevin Gausman.

The Blue Jays attempted to sign the San Francisco Giants free agent last off-season, but he turned down a multiyear deal and accepted an $18.9 million qualifying offer to remain with the Bay Area club.

During an interview at the all-star game in Denver, Gausman said that “more than anything the decision came down to comfortability.”

“It’s hard to want to sign somewhere for multiple years when you don’t know what to expect, even more so adding in all the COVID-19 (uncertainty),” he continued. “The fact that they’re in Buffalo didn’t have anything to do with my decision, but after the fact you think about those things and it’s like, ‘Maybe we made the right decision.’ I love Toronto, it’s one of my favourite cities, I’ve always loved playing there. It has a special place in my heart because I made my debut in Toronto and they made a very competitive offer to me.

“But the one for $18.9 million was just too much to pass up and I was going back to a place where I felt comfortable with all the people that I knew were going to be in place, from the pitching coach to the manager, to all the strength coaches, knowing that they were just going to let me do what I did the year before and had success doing. All of those things factored into it.”

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