TORONTO — More than a month after trading Eric Sogard to the Tampa Bay Rays, the return for the 33-year-old infielder has been finalized.
Since dealing Sogard to the Rays in exchange for a pair of players to be named later, the Blue Jays had until the end of August to sift through a couple lists of names and choose two of them.
The details were settled Sunday, with the Jays officially acquiring two right-handed pitchers in Port Coquitlam, B.C., native Curtis Taylor, and Edisson Gonzalez, a 19-year-old out of Panama.
Taylor, a 6-foot-6, 230-pounder, posted a 3.06 ERA across 17.2 relief innings in Double-A this season, but he was shut down with elbow pain at the end of May.
The Blue Jays believe he’ll be ready to go in the spring, but there’s a chance another setback could result in an extended absence for the big righty.
“The upside he’s shown in the past with his performance was what we looked at,” Blue Jays assistant GM Joe Sheehan said.
The 24-year-old was a fourth-round pick of the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2016 and traded to the Rays in exchange for reliever Brad Boxberger.
Gonzalez, meanwhile, has spent his 2019 season in Low-A, registering a 2.45 ERA and piling up strikeouts, fanning 77 across 62.1 innings, including 11 starts.
In stark contrast to Taylor, Gonzalez is listed at just 5-foot-10 and 160 pounds, but Sheehan says there’s feel for a four-pitch mix and they’re hopeful he can remain a starter.
Signed to a minor-league deal in November, Sogard broke out with a surprising .300/.363/.477 slash line and 10 homers in 73 games in Toronto, and that production helped the Jays get a couple of lottery ticket arms in return for the veteran infielder.
“They had a handful of interesting arms in the lower levels of the minors, we just didn’t have a lot of info on them (at the time the trade was agreed upon July 28),” Sheehan said. “It was really just giving us a month to scout them. It gave us a chance to really bear down on them and give us a little more time to get familiar with them, comfortable with them and learn a little bit more about them.”
TEPERA RETURNS TO BULLPEN
Reliever Ryan Tepera returned to the Blue Jays bullpen on Sunday, ending a three-plus month stint in injury purgatory for the 31-year-old right-hander.
Tepera had surgery in late May to remove bone spurs from his right elbow, and he hopes it ends a yearlong issue that initially cropped up late last year and then again late in spring training.
“I tried to battle through it,” said Tepera, who pitched to a 6.55 ERA in 11 innings early this season. “I would say sometime last year in the second half I started feeling it and I wasn’t 100 per cent. During the off-season, we took some steps to try to figure out what was wrong. I got treatment in Houston and just could never figure out what was going on. It’s been a while since I’ve been 100 per cent.”
There was some thought Tepera might need Tommy John surgery, so it was a relief when that was ruled out and the bone spurs were found, an issue he also had taken care of during his sophomore season at Sam Houston State 11 years ago.
“I had gotten a couple different opinions and one opinion was that it was possible TJ at first,” Tepera said. “I never deep down thought it was. I never thought it was the ligament, it was the back of the elbow. Once I found out it was for sure the bone spur, we did the cortisone injection to test it out. Once I found out what it was, it was a relief to be able to go in and be able to get the surgery, mentally, physically just to get that pressure off.”
Tepera, who’s making $1,525,000 this season, is arbitration eligible again this winter and is under team control through 2021.
He’s rejoining a Jays team that looks a lot different from the last time he was a part of it in May.
“There’s just so much talent,” Tepera said. “It’s exciting. I’m looking forward to next year, too, to see how we can compete. These guys are getting a taste of the big leagues and getting that experience and it’s going to carry over next year.”
ROSTERS EXPAND TO 40
The arrival of September means roster expansion, but the Blue Jays weren’t in any rush to bring up a bevy of reinforcements from the 40-man roster.
In addition to Tepera — reliever Neil Ramirez was designated for assignment in order to make room on the 40-man — the only other addition Sunday was 29-year-old Beau Taylor, who’ll serve as the third catcher for the month of September.
A handful of others are expected to join the Blue Jays on their upcoming road trip through Atlanta and Tampa Bay, including outfielder Jonathan Davis.
The Blue Jays are also debating adding Anthony Kay and giving one of the pieces that came over in the Marcus Stroman trade a late-season cameo.
Others being considered include right-handers Sean Reid-Foley and Brock Stewart, utility infielder Richard Urena, and outfielder Anthony Alford.
Lourdes Gurriel Jr., who’s been sidelined by a left quad strain since Aug. 8, is also expected to be ready to return when the Jays get to Tampa.