How Do You Solve a Problem Like David Purcey?

EDIT: Apparently, if you were Alex Anthopoulos, you designate him for assignment.  Let's see if any other club decides to pick him up.

EDIT 2: Alex Anthopoulos traded David Purcey to the A's for former Jays prospect Dan "Lord" Farquhar. Much better than the $20,000 waiver claim fee!

David Purcey is a left-handed 28-year old former first round draft pick (16th overall) by the Blue Jays in 2004. He was used exclusively as a starter in his professional career, including parts of two seasons as a Jay in 2008 and 2009. In Spring Training 2010, he was converted into a reliever and was optioned to AAA Las Vegas to start the year to work on his conversion. In 17 appearances, all in relief, Purcey had a 3.38 ERA, 23 K, and 15 BB over 18.2 IP, recording a 1.55 WHIP with the 51s.

When Dana Eveland was designated for assignment late May last year, Purcey was called up and performed effectively out of the bullpen for the balance of the season with the Jays (save for a stint on the DL and a rehab assignment in AA New Hampshire). In 33 appearances with the big club, he recorded a 3.71 ERA, striking out 32 while walking 15 over 34.0 innings pitched. He had a WHIP of 1.21, ERA+ of 113, and recorded a single save. He looked good in his first year as a left-hander out of the bullpen, and I had good hopes for him for the 2011 season.

However, something looked wrong about Purcey this Spring Training. His strikes% stayed about the same compared to last year's regular season at 62%, but his walks per inning nearly doubled, and his WHIP went from 1.21 to 1.80. A particularly bad outing came early in Spring Training, when on March 8 he faced 3 Rays batters and walked them on 12 balls. He looked good in his last spring appearance, giving up 2 hits, walking none, and striking out 2 over 2.0 innings against the Orioles. That may have helped save his spot on the roster (as did Jesse Carlson's injury).

But let's look at his regular season game log:


I have bolded the walk and strikes counts from his three most recent appearances. In those three appearances, he got only 3 outs while facing 9 batters, walking 4 of them. His strike % went down to 37%. He was lucky that his bullpen pals saved him from giving up any runs in the Angel games, but they weren't able to help him after he loaded the bases with only one out last night against the Mariners. In his other two appearances, Purcey faced 5 batter, go them all out save giving one hit, and had a 71% strike percentage.

So in the last three appearances, he had completely lost the location of the strike zone, and looked horrible. The question is: is that enough for a demotion? My thoughts are no. If I were in charge, Purcey would be allowed to come out at least once more in a non-critical situation (uhh, like having a 6-run lead) to demonstrate that he can locate and throw effective strikes. If he screws up again, I'll have to look seriously at the choices available to me.

So, if I were in charge, what are my choices? How can I solve a problem like David Purcey--a 28-year old left-handed reliever out of options?

  1. Trade. That sends Purcey's contract (at Major League minimum) to another Major League team and possibly gets something (probably something small) in return. If a team (especially one who did well last season) really wants Purcey, they may go this route rather than risk another team picking him up through waivers (see 3, below)
  2. Release. That immediately removes Purcey from both the 25-man and 40-man rosters. Another MLB team can pick him up from the Jays for $1, or else he will become a free agent. I don't see the Jays choosing to do this.
  3. Designate for assignment. This choice immediately removes Purcey from the 40-man roster and exposes him to an irrevocable waiver and his contract can be picked up by the other 29 teams in reverse order of won-lost record. The claiming team pays the Jays $20,000 for the player. If he is not claimed, two new choices (4&5) become available.
  4. DFA, then option to minors. If no other club claims him within 10 days, Purcey can be optioned to the minor leagues. He will have to be placed back onto the 40-man roster to serve an optional assignment. Again, I don't see the Jays choosing to do this because of choice 5 that is available.
  5. DFA, then outright to minors. If no other club claims him within 10 days, Purcey can be outrighted to the minor leagues. This leaves him off of the 40-man roster. A player can only be outrighted without permission once in his career, and only if he has less than 3 years of MLB service.  I don't believe that Purcey has ever been outrighted yet, and he has less than 3 years of service.
  6. Place on disabled list. If the Jays find that Purcey has a legitimate injury, he may be placed on the 15-day or 60-day DL. The 15-day DL removes him from the 25-man roster, and the 60-day DL removes him from the 40-man roster as well.

If Purcey does leave the active roster than the available lefties from the bullpen currently on the 25-man roster are Marc Rzepczynski and Jo-Jo Reyes (if converted to reliever). On the 40-man roster are Brad Mills and Luis Perez.

So what is your call? Do you think another MLB team will pickup Purcey on waivers? Is it worth losing him for essentially nothing? Do you think he will rebound eventually? Are there better left-handed options available?

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