TORONTO — The Blue Jays doubled down on additions to the bullpen, agreeing to a deal to acquire right-handed relievers Zach Pop and Anthony Bass along with a player later named from the Marlins in exchange for the No. 4 prospect Jordan Groshans, the club announced on Tuesday.
The deal begins to address Toronto’s most pressing need, but the club is expected to continue exploring pitching upgrades before the 6 p.m. ET trade deadline.
In Pop, from Brampton, Ont., the Blue Jays add another Canadian alongside closer Jordan Romano, and the 25-year-old right-hander takes control of the team through the end of the 2026 season. the Blue Jays’ acquisition of Adam Cimber last summer from that same Marlins club, when they were aiming for a long-term piece of bullpen.
The Blue Jays get: RHP Anthony Bass, Zach Pop
Marlins get: SS/3B Jordan Groshans (#4 Blue Jays prospect/#82 overall)
Pop is also an interesting fit in this bullpen, not necessarily representing the swing-and-miss reliever many expected the Blue Jays to target. Pop has a 7.8 K/9 strikeout rate in 74 2/3 MLB innings, including a 3.60 ERA this season, but he’s producing ground ball contact at an incredible rate (63, 8% in 2022), relying heavily on a lead that averages 96.5 mph.
“It’s pretty special to be able to go home and see my family and play for the Blue Jays,” Pop said. “I have a lot of friends and a lot of people supporting them right now. To be a part of what they’re doing there right now is pretty amazing. They’ve got a great team there, and I’ve lucky to be in. They do special things.
Bass, of course, will be a household name for Blue Jays fans. The right-hander spent 2020 with Toronto, stepping in to close out games at one point when Ken Giles went down, and is currently enjoying a career year with the Marlins, posting a 1.41 ERA over 44 2/3 innings with 45 strikeouts.
The 34-year-old offers a $3 million club option for 2023 which includes a $1 million buyout. Bass and Pop will join the crowded group of Blue Jays setup weapons used in front of Romano, a group that includes Cimber, Yimi Garcia, David Phelps and Tim Mayza. This allows Toronto to extend some of that depth in the early innings, closing the gap to the starters.
Bass said he and Pop had already received a text from Cimber, and he also knows Garcia well from their time together in 2021. Toronto’s bullpen turned into Miami North.
“I’m going to a team with a chance to make the playoffs, which as players is what we always want to do,” Bass said. “Our end goal is to win a World Series, so this part is exciting, going to Toronto for this opportunity. Obviously, it’s a familiar place. I was with them in 2020, so it will be a nice transition for me.
Talented relievers with team control don’t come cheap, however, which is why the Blue Jays had to deal with Groshans, their No. 4 and No. 82 prospect in MLB, according to MLB Pipeline.
Groshans was the Blue Jays’ first-round pick in the 2018 draft, No. 12 overall, and he’s off to a strong start in the lower minors. After an injury-shortened 21 season with Double-A New Hampshire, where he hit .291 with an .817 OPS, Groshans has been looking for his power this season in Triple-A.
There, the 22-year-old hit .250, and while his .348 on-base percentage shows improved plate approach, Groshans hit just one home run in 67 games. The power is certainly there for the gifted youngster who was turning heads in spring training with his exit speeds, but Groshans had clearly been overtaken by Orelvis Martinez as the organization’s top prospect. He will now have a bigger opportunity in the Marlins organization.
Including right-hander Gunnar Hoglund (’21) and infielder Austin Martin (’20), the Blue Jays have now traded three of their four first-round picks from the 18-21 draft.