TORONTO – The Toronto Blue Jays and right-hander Tyler Chatwood reached an agreement on a $3-million, one-year contract that is pending a physical and includes incentives that can push the total to $5.5 million, according to an industry source.
Chatwood, 31, made five starts for the Cubs last summer, posting a 5.30 ERA in 18.1 innings before a forearm strain sidelined him for the second half of the shortened season. He walked nine hitters, but struck out 25 for a career-best rate of 12.1 strikeouts per nine.
The Blue Jays are expected to use him as a reliever, a role he found himself in for most of 2019, when 33 of his 38 games came out of the bullpen. In 54 innings of relief that year, he struck out 53 batters, allowed 44 hits and 23 walks and posted a 3.67 ERA.
Chatwood was a Blue Jays target once before, when he signed the $38-million, three-year deal he just completed with the Cubs. His stuff is intriguing, particularly a fastball that averaged 94.7 m.p.h. with a spin rate that ranked in the 96th percentile, according to Baseball Savant.
Depending on how the rest of the off-season plays out, Chatwood could fit into a swing role or serve as rotation depth. Currently, their starting staff looks set to include ace Hyun-Jin Ryu, Robbie Ray, Nate Pearson, Tanner Roark and Ross Stripling.
The Blue Jays have told young arms like Anthony Kay and Thomas Hatch to spend the winter preparing to start and both are candidates to open the season in the triple-A rotation if they don’t end up in the bullpen.
Once the Blue Jays add Chatwood to their 40-man roster, it will once again be full.