The Blue Jays recently agreed to a minor league deal with reliever Eric Yardley (h/t to Chris Hilburn-Trenkle of Baseball America). The sidearming righty has been assigned to Triple-A Buffalo, where he’s made a pair of appearances.
Yardley had opened the season with the Cubs after signing a minor league pact during the lockout. He made five appearances with their top affiliate in Iowa but served up ten runs on 12 hits and three walks in 4 2/3 innings before being released earlier this month. He’s yet to allow a run in his three frames with the Bisons, however, permitting only one baserunner.
The 31-year-old Yardley hasn’t yet reached the majors this season, but he’s pitched at the MLB level in each of the prior three years. The Seattle University product broke in with the Padres in 2019, making ten appearances. San Diego released him at the end of that season, but the Brewers grabbed him off waivers and kept him on the 40-man roster as a depth option for the next two years.
Between the two clubs, Yardley has worked 53 2/3 innings over 51 outings. He owns a solid 3.52 ERA in spite of a lackluster 13% strikeout rate and a fastball that averaged just 87 MPH last season, as his atypical delivery has helped him rack up ground balls. More than 60% of career batted balls against Yardley have been hit on the ground, and he’s typically had success keeping the ball in the yard as a result.
Not surprisingly, Yardley’s low arm slot has been quite a bit more effective against same-handed batters. For his career, he’s held righties to a manageable .242/.336/.389 slash line. Lefties, on the other hand, have teed off to a .312/.382/.468 clip in 89 plate appearances. Yardley adds a situational depth option to the upper minors of the Toronto farm system.