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Blue Jays sign David Phelps, per report

Phelps will look to bounce back in Toronto after missing the entire 2018 season due to Tommy John surgery.

Seattle Mariners of Anaheim v Kansas City Royals Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images

The Blue Jays are in agreement with free-agent reliever David Phelps on a one-year deal with a club option for a second season. The deal will pay him $2.5 million in 2019, with plenty of potential incentives in place for 2020 if his club option is picked up. ESPN’s Jeff Passan and The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal were the first to break news of the deal on Thursday night:

Phelps, 32, missed the entire 2018 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery just prior to Opening Day. He should be back to full strength early in the season, though it’s not guaranteed that he’ll be ready for Opening Day this year — and that’s fair, since the Blue Jays are expected to go through a bit of a rebuild year in 2019 and are likely eyeing Phelps either as someone they can flip at the trade deadline or a potential bullpen piece for 2020, when they could be good again if guys like Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, and Danny Jansen develop as expected.

Phelps, who reached the majors as a starter with the Yankees, has excelled since being converted to a full-time bullpen role by the Marlins in 2016. Over 55.2 innings split between Miami and Seattle in 2017, he posted a 3.40 ERA and a 1.38 WHIP with 62 strikeouts and 26 walks. With Toronto not really having any reliably consistent relievers, he figures to at least be in position for a setup role, and there’s a decent chance that he could end up stealing the closer’s role from Ken Giles sooner or later.