If it's a Friday in November, then it's #TransactionFriday for the Blue Jays. While there was little doubt there would be some sort of transaction with today being the deadline to protect prospects from the Rule 5, the front office tore a sheet out of their predecessor's favourite playbook and claimed a couple of pitchers to add into the bullpen mix for 2017.
The two newest Blue Jays are RHP Dominic Leone (claimed from Arizona) and RHP Leonel Campos (claimed from San Diego). Both have major league experience over the last three seasons, and are pure relievers. Both have an option year remaining, so while they should both get a look in Spring Training, the Jays have flexibility and it wouldn't be surprising if they were mainstays of the 2017 Buffalo bullpen.
Leone, 25, was drafted in the 16th round of the 2012 draft by the Mariners as a junior out of Clemson, signing for $100,000. He ascended rapidly through their system, reaching AA in 2013 before a successful stint in the Arizona Fall League. After a strong Spring Training, he was called up to the majors the first week of the season, where he stuck the entire year posting strong 2.17 ERA in 66.1 innings (59 ERA-) out of the bullpen. He struck out 70 (26%) against 25 walks (9%), with a strong ground ball profile (55%) driving a strong 3.07 FIP (83 FIP-).
Unfortunately, that didn't carry over to 2015 as he struggled in Spring Training and was optioned down to AAA. He bounced between the levels, struggling to a 6.35 ERA in 10 games before being traded to Arizona as part of the Mark Trumbo deal in June 2015. He split 2016 between AAA Reno and Arizona, pitching respectably in AAA (3.34 ERA, 36 strikeouts in 35 innings) but posting a 6.33 ERA in 25 MLB games, which similarly ugly peripherals. His strikeout rate dipped to 18% paired with a nasty long ball problem (7 HR in 27 games).
Per Brooks Baseball, Leone relies on a three pitch mix, with a 94-95 MPH fastball that Fangraphs (Kiley McDaniel) graded as a 70 pitch in early 2015, along with a cutter and slider. This would strongly suggest a pitcher who will be more effective against same handed hitters, and indeed Leone has a respectable career .255/.317/.419 line against RHB, while he has been torched to the tune of .298/.399/.478 against lefties.
Campos, 29, was signed as an international free agent from Venezuela in 2010, at the fairly ripe age of 22. He made just one appearance in 2011 before requiring Tommy John surgery which wiped out all of 2012. He split 2013 across low-A and AA, dominating both levels with high strikeout rates. He did some starting in 2014, with poor results across AA and AAA (6.34 ERA) but with strong strikeout numbers earning him a September call-up.
In all, he's only pitched 30 major league innings, with the majority of that coming this past year. He sports a career 5.70 ERA, with a solid 34 strikeouts but also 19 walks. He's currently pitching for Aguilas de Zulia of the Venezuelan Winter League (4 innings, 2 runs, 3 K).
Per Brooks Baseball, Campos has relied on two pitches at the major league level, a fastball averaging 94 MPH and a slider that he uses about 40% of the time.
With the addition of Leone and Campos, and the release of Josh Thole, the 40-man roster stands at 36, which most immediately would only leave four spots to add prospects, with two of those all but spoken for. This could presage some more DFAs later today from the bubble list I compiled earlier this month.