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Blue Jays sign J.P. Howell to one-year deal

Howell joins the Blue Jays who were in dire need of left-handed relief.

MLB: Arizona Diamondbacks at Los Angeles Dodgers Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

The Blue Jays have signed left-handed reliever J.P. Howell to a one-year, $3 million deal worth $3 million, according to a report from FOX’s Ken Rosenthal. ESPN’s Buster Olney was first to report the agreement.

The 33-year-old Howell is coming off of four consecutive productive seasons with the Dodgers. Over the previous four seasons, Howell has managed to pitch 205.2 innings amassing 1.6 WAR by FanGraphs’ estimations.

Like many left-handed relievers, his splits against left-handed hitters are especially favorable. While his workload has been varied against opponents on either side of the plate, Howell has held left-handed hitters to an OPS of .623 over his career.

Howell joins a Blue Jays bullpen that was in pretty dire need of left-handed assistance. Among lefties, the Blue Jays currently have Aaron Loup, Matt Dermody, and Chad Girodo listed on their depth chart. During the 2016 season, those relievers logged 27.2 innings pitched combined. Even further, the three relievers combined to be below replacement level as well. To put that in perspective, Howell pitched 50.2 last season.

Whether the signing of Howell completes the bullpen or not remains to be seen. The Blue Jays could likely stand to gain another reliever, though the same can be said of many teams. While the Jays could still be exploring a trade with the White Sox around David Robertson, Rosenthal is reporting that there has been “no recent talks” on that situation.

With pitchers and catchers reporting as early as two weeks today, the coming days could be busy for bullpen-related news. In addition to Howell’s agreement, Joe Nathan and Matt Albers both found jobs with the Nationals on Tuesday.