Is Varvaro an answer to Jays bullpen woes?


* With the Atlanta Braves dropping RP Anthony Varvaro from their 40-man roster on Monday. He appeared in 61 games for the Braves in 2014 with a 3-3 marks and a .2.63 ERA. He walked 13 and struck out 50 in 54 2/3 innings. ….

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By Andrew Hendriks
The Atlanta Braves have something the Toronto Blue Jays are currently lacking ….

An embarrassment of riches in regards to, major league ready, home grown hurlers.

Atlanta tomahawk chopped right handed reliever Anthony Varvaro off their 40-man roster on Monday, designating the 30 year-old Staten Island native for assignment, thus opening him up for a potential trade later this off-season.

Having needed to create an opening on the teams 40-man roster for newly acquired infielder, Alberto Callaspo, the Braves had to act fast and with a bullpen bolstered by seasoned veterans in Craig Kimbrel, Shelby Miller and David Carpenter as well as promising new comers such as Chasen Shreve, Shae Simmons and James Russell, the move was nearly automatic.

Selected by the Mariners in the 12th round of 2005’s June amateur draft, Varvaro broke into the bigs with the M’s during the 2010 season, posting less than favorable numbers as a September call-up that fall. Appearing in four games while serving up a pair of home runs to go along with an ERA of 11.25, the product of St Johns University was then placed on waivers only to be picked up by the Braves prior to the start of the 2011 season.

Over parts or the next four seasons with the Braves, Varvaro emerged as one of Atlanta’s most reliable arms out of the bullpen with his success having been easily highlighted by a 2014 campaign in which the then 29 year-old reliever posted career bests in WHIP (1.079), BB/9 (2.1) and FIP (3.21) while notching an ERA of 2.63 in 54.2 innings of work.

It’s no small secret… The Blue Jays could use an arm like that in order to shore up some inefficiencies that made Toronto’s bullpen a point of contention in 2014 and as Varvaro comes with an additional four years of team control, the righty certainly fits the Anthopoulos-era style of waiver claim.

As it stands, the Toronto’s starting rotation will be heavily relying on youth in 2015 and with three spots out of five going to young arms Marcus Stroman, Drew Hutchison and Aaron Sanchez, the need for a strengthened bullpen is crucial.

Currently, the bullpen consists of Brett Cecil, Todd Redmond, Aaron Loup, Chad Jenkins, Marco Estrada, Rob Rasmussen and Kyle Drabek with potential competition coming in the form of Bo Shultz,Steve Delabar, Daniel Norris, Ryan Tepera and Cory Burns … None of which have sufficient experience closing out ball games.

Although management has hinted at the fact that Sanchez would likely see some time in the rotation during the 2015 season , it’s interesting to entertain the notion of keeping the hard throwing right-hander in the pen as the teams closer, replacing him with Norris in the starting five.

In addition to filling a large hole left in the wake of Casey Janssen’s departure as a free agent this off-season, the move would also set up a convenient righty-lefty mix in the clubs starting rotation while potentiality cutting down on an abundance of left handed relievers in the Jays bullpen.

Replacing, say, Drabek and Rasmussen with Sanchez and Varvaro would certainly help ease some of the tension regarding Toronto’s bullpen situation ahead of spring training. And with payroll emerging as one of the teams most pressing narratives following the Russell Martin deal earlier this off-season, perhaps its the most feasible move that can be made between now and Feb. 19.

Of course, the question now is what will the Braves be asking for in return?

Should Atlanta move Evan Gattis, a potential bargaining chip has been brought up in a lot of trade conversations over the course of the last two months, Dioner Navarro would certainly address his vacancy.

   — Follow Andrew Hendriks on twitter (@77hendriks)

Scott Harrigan
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