Gary A. Vasquez

Toronto Blue Jays Agree To One-Year Deal With JP Howell

In search of cheap, reliable bullpen options, the Blue Jays have secured one of the better options left out on the open market.

According to ESPN.com's Buster Olney, the Toronto Blue Jays and reliever JP Howell have agreed to a one-year, $3 million deal for the 2017 season that is set to begin in just a few weeks. 

https://twitter.com/Buster_ESPN/status/826559442204446722

Howell, who will turn 34 in April, struggled in 2016 with the Los Angeles Dodgers, finishing the season with a 4.09 ERA in just over 50 innings. Last season was uncharacteristic of the lefty, as he has been a key piece of the Dodgers bullpen the past four seasons and had performed quite well. In his time in Los Angeles, Howell posted a 2.49 ERA and a 8.1 K/9. He is known more for being a ground ball pitcher and has consistently put up better numbers against left-handed batters than against right.

 Though Howell struggled statistically, the metric paint a different picture. Howell posted a near career averages in K/9 and walk rate, as well has having one of the best ground ball rates, 59.1 percent, in baseball. His numbers suffered largely last season because he was not able to get left-handed hitters out with regularity, but the Blue Jays will be banking on him regaining his prior form and providing a solid arm out of the pen.

After a disappointing 2016, it should come as no surprise that Howell was still on the market this late into winter. The Blue Jays have been searching for another left-handed option out of the pen after watching lefty Brett Cecil leave via free agency to the St.Louis Cardinals. Howell should be paired with Aaron Loup in John Gibbon's bullpen and provides another veteran arm as the Blue Jays attempt to make another deep postseason run. 

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