Blue Jays hope for a healthy Gavin Floyd

The Blue Jays re-signed right-hander Gavin Floyd to a minor league deal earlier this offseason, and hope he can finally stay healthy through a full season.

The Blue Jays continue to add to their bullpen as we approach spring training, signing Joe Smith late Saturday night, after signing J.P. Howell on Tuesday. Both veterans signed for 1 year, with Howell receiving 3 million and Smith’s contract terms not yet known.

Adding those two to the group of incumbents in Roberto Osuna, Jason Grilli, Joe Biagini, and possibly Aaron Loup, the Blue Jays pen may be finally rounding into form. Leaving out Loup (because I don’t see him as a lock), it would seem that at least 5 jobs should be spoken for, and the Jays could still look to add again before opening day.

If Ross Atkins and Mark Shapiro decide to stand pat with what they’ve got (and it looks a lot better than it did a week ago), there will be a competition for two spots in the pen. With Howell being the only lefty of the seemingly guaranteed five, it’s possible that Loup could be battling options like Matt Dermody, Chad Girodo, and minor league signings like T.J. House, or Brett Oberholtzer. The Jays have also shown confidence in Ryan Tepera against lefties, so he could factor here as well.

From the right side, the Blue Jays could have several options for the final spot. They acquired right-hander Mike Bolsinger from the Dodgers last year, who has big league experience and could potentially serve as the long man. Otherwise the options include Tepera, Danny Barnes, Glenn Sparkman and Bo Schultz.

There are several solid options with upside to fill those last two spots, but I’m going to predict that one of those gigs goes to veteran, Gavin Floyd. Floyd is back with the Blue Jays on a minor league deal after having pitched for the club in 2016. He re-signed with the Jays on Jan 5th, and agreed to a minor league deal relatively early in free agency.

The 34 year old actually threw quite well out of the bullpen for the Jays last year, pitching to a 4.06 ERA over 31 innings. As most of us remember, the Blue Jays bullpen was a mess early in 2016, and Floyd was one of the few trusted arms that manager John Gibbons could go to. A couple rough outings actually pushed his ERA above 4, otherwise his numbers would look a little better.

However, Floyd found himself in a familiar position, landing on the disabled list in late June with a lat injury, and never making it back on the field. Due to that, and the fact that he only appeared in 21 games from 2013-15, likely had him more willing to accept a minor league deal in January.

For the 13 year veteran, it’s all about whether he can stay healthy. If he can, he brings sneaky value to the pen with better than average fastball, above average curve, a solid change, and the ability to pitch multiple innings. Fortunately for the Blue Jays, he lost the spring training competition to Aaron Sanchez to be the 5th starter last season, so the Jays clearly believed he could still start. *Note- let’s try not to think about what a waste it would have been to keep Sanchez in the pen.

Through 31 innings, Floyd had a WHIP of 1.000, 8.7 SO/9, and actually dominated lefties, holding them to a .111/.184/.267 line over 75 plate appearances. That ability, the length he brings to the pen, and his experience likely give him a slight advantage over the names listed above, provided of course that he can stay healthy.

That’s proven to be a pretty big if for Floyd in recent years, so here’s hoping he can reverse the trend and stay healthy. If he can, he could be a big bargain for the Blue Jays in 2017.

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