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Blue Jays add righty David Phelps to bullpen equation

Friday’s Russell Martin trade wasn’t the Blue Jays’ only order of business.

The Jays also signed right-hander David Phelps in hopes of bulking up their bullpen. The one-year deal is reportedly worth $2.5 million (all dollars U.S.), with a club option for 2020 — starting at $1 million with another $7 million in potential bonuses based on appearances.

The club also reached one-year deals with eight of nine players ahead of Friday’s deadline to exchange final numbers for salary arbitration:

  • Starter Marcus Stroman and the Jays reportedly agreed on a $7.4-million contract to avoid a hearing. Last winter, they went to a hearing and Stroman was awarded $6.5 million after seeking $6.9 million.
  • Reliever Ken Giles and the Jays settled at $6.3 million.

Reliever Ryan Tepera is the only Jay going to an arbitration hearing.

The 32-year-old Phelps became a free agent after spending 2018 with the Seattle Mariners — albeit on the sidelines. He suffered a torn elbow ligament before the season and underwent Tommy John surgery in March. On Friday, the Jays said they expect him to be ready for opening day — March 28 against the Detroit Tigers.

The Jays were at the 40-man roster limit before they traded Martin to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday, clearing a spot for Phelps.

Phelps, a 14th-round pick by the New York Yankees in 2008, started out as a swingman before moving to the bullpen full-time in 2017 with the Miami Marlins.

The Jays hope they’re getting the 2106 version of Phelps, who made 64 appearances for the Marlins that year with a 2.31 ERA and 11.8 strikeouts per nine innings.

Laura Armstrong is a sports reporter based in Toronto. Follow her on Twitter: @lauraarmy

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