With the trade deadline a month away, the Blue Jays and Marlins got things started with a swap of three major leaguers. Toronto acquired right-handed, side-winding reliever Adam Cimber and outfielder Corey Dickerson while Miami received infielder Joe Panik and minor league reliever, Adam McInvale.
As of Tuesday morning, the Blue Jays were 6.5 games back of the first-place Red Sox in the AL East and five games behind Oakland for the second Wild Card spot, so reinforcements will be needed to make a run for the postseason. Cimber and Dickerson both shore up holes on Toronto’s roster, and Toronto didn’t have to give up much to get them.
Cimber isn’t a strikeout maven, but he’s been an effective pitcher nonetheless. After 34 1⁄3 innings, Cimber is sporting a 2.88 ERA and 3.32 FIP. Only Tyler Rogers has a lower release point than Cimber’s average of 2.18 feet off the ground.
Adam Cimber brings a different look, to say the least.— Andrew Simon (@AndrewSimonMLB) June 29, 2021
Here's his 2021 release points vs. those of every Blue Jays pitcher. pic.twitter.com/302619uEQt
With his low arm slot, Cimber has been difficult to square up. He’s given up just one home run going back to the end of the 2019 season, and his barrel percentage ranks in the 96th percentile.
He’s not just a rental either. Cimber is under team control through the 2024 season. This is his age 30 season, so he’ll be 34 in his final year of arbitration eligibility. Because he doesn’t rely on velocity, he figures to age better than his peers.
Cimber joins a bullpen in desperate need of consistent innings. The Blue Jays have already deployed 23 relievers this season. Collectively, they rank 12th in ERA, 17th in FIP, and 18th in fWAR. The Blue Jays aren’t the only team to deal with a slew of injuries, but they’ve been hit especially hard in the bullpen. Offseason acquisition Kirby Yates is out for the year with Tommy John. David Phelps is also out for the year after an excellent start. Carl Edwards Jr. and Julian Merryweather both have strained obliques. Ryan Borucki, AJ Cole, Rafael Dolis, and Tommy Milone are all sidelined as well.
Corey Dickerson won’t contribute immediately as he’s currently on the injured list with a foot contusion. There’s currently no timetable for his return. Before he got hurt, however, Dickerson was hitting .263/.324/.380 for a 101 wRC+. When he comes back, he’ll provide a left-handed option for a righty-heavy offense. The only two active lefties on the Blue Jays roster are Cavan Biggio and Reese McGuire.
Though they lack the ability to mix and match, Toronto’s offense has been one of the best in the majors. The Blue Jays rank fourth in non-pitcher wRC+ at 112, and they’ve even been better against right-handed pitchers than lefties. Teamwide reverse splits like that aren’t guaranteed to continue, however. Throughout his career, Dickerson has been a much better hitter against righties than lefties. With the platoon advantage, Dickerson has a 122 wRC+. Without it, he only has an 89 mark.
As of Tuesday morning, the Marlins had the best run differential in the NL East, but they’re dead last in the division. The return for Cimber and Dickerson doesn’t appear that it will help them reverse their misfortune. Joe Panik hasn’t had a wRC+ in the triple-digits since 2017, and he’s not going to change that this season. Panik is slashing .246/.293/.351 for a 76 wRC+.
Primarily a second baseman during his years with the Giants, Panik has adopted a utility role in recent years. With Brian Anderson and José Devers on the injured list, Panik provides a fill-in until they are ready to return.
Andrew McInvale was a late-round pick in the 2019 draft, but he has ascended the minor league ranks somewhat quickly. In 20 2⁄3 innings at Double-A, McInvale has a 2.18 ERA and a 31.8 percent strikeout rate. That comes with a 14.8 percent walk rate, so it’s not all roses.
This move doesn’t make the Blue Jays favorites in the AL East, but it strengthens their depth. Considering the price, there’s no way to hate the move from Toronto’s perspective. They’re better than they were at the beginning of the week, if only slightly.
Kenny Kelly is the managing editor of Beyond the Box Score.