I’m a little late on this, if only because of a) playoff baseball, and b) the press release link on the Toronto Blue Jays website is kind of inconspicuously placed at the bottom of the page. Then again, it’s not really a major move, I suppose, even if it is a notable one.
In any case, the Blue Jays outrighted lefty pitcher Aaron Laffey – and two others – off the 40-man roster the day after the season ended, likely to make room for prospects that the team wants to protect from the rule-five draft. The other two were Shawn Hill and Bobby Korecky, both AAA depth relievers who’d made an appearance each in September.
Laffey’s work with the Blue Jays, on the other hand, is marked more substantial: he began spring training with an outside shot of making the team, and spent the first couple of the season in AAA (where he struggled, as pitchers tend to do in Las Vegas). He too was a depth piece for the Blue Jays, but a depth piece with some upside, who would likely get at least a couple of spot-starts with the team.
Then the wave of injuries hit the Blue Jays pitching staff, and Laffey was called up to pitch out of the bullpen. That turned into a spot start at the end of June, where the lefty allowed no runs on three hits in his debut as a Blue Jays starter. One excellent spot start turned into another for Laffey, and by the time he’d pitched a seven-inning gem (eight hits, no runs, no walks) in late July against the Boston Red Sox, many of us were on board with the underdog story. Had the Blue Jays found another hidden gem, an unexpected contributor to the team’s ailing pitching staff?
Unfortunately, that was not the case, as Laffey began struggling immediately after that. His ERA was 2.77 that day – it ended at 4.56, thanks to a 5.25/1.51 ERA/WHIP split in the second half of the season. Still, the Blue Jays didn’t have particularly better options, so they just kept running the 27-year old out there, even if he was over-matched most of the time.
Now, just like that, Laffey is gone – likely to take on a similar role with a different club by the time spring training starts up again in 2013. Was he the feel-good underdog story that Blue Jays fans might have hoped for? Probably not.
Yet, considering that he was signed by the Blue Jays to be a depth player in the minor leagues, but wound up making 16 starts in his 100+ innings? I’d have to say the Blue Jays probably got more out of Laffey than expected.