August 2, 2022
By Kevin Glew
Cooperstowners in Canada
The Toronto Blue Jays have acquired right-hander Zach Pop (Brampton, Ont.) and reliever Anthony Bass from the Miami Marlins in exchange for top infield prospect Jordan Groshans.
The Blue Jays, who will also receive a player to be named later in the deal, announced the transaction just prior to 3 p.m. E.T. on Tuesday.
“It’s kind of bittersweet. The Marlins gave me an unbelievable opportunity to come here and start my major league career and I’m forever grateful for that,” Pop told Christina De Nicola, the Marlins reporter for MLB.com, of the deal on Tuesday.
But the Canuck righty is looking forward to heading back to his hometown.
“It’s pretty special to go back home and see my family and to play for the Blue Jays. I’ve got a lot of friends and a lot of people rooting for them right now. And to be a part of what they’re doing over there is pretty amazing,” Pop told De Nicola. “They’ve got a great team over there and I’m lucky to be a part of it. They’ve done some pretty special things all around the field.”
In Pop, the Blue Jays receive a hard-throwing 25-year-old who has split 2022 between the Marlins and triple-A. In 18 appearances with the Marlins, Pop owns a 3.60 ERA and has 14 strikeouts in 20 innings.
Selected in the 23rd round by the Blue Jays out of Notre Dame Secondary School in Brampton, Ont., in 2014, Pop opted not to sign and headed to the University of Kentucky. After three collegiate seasons with the Wildcats, he was chosen in the seventh round of the 2017 draft by the Los Angeles Dodgers. He made five scoreless appearances in Rookie ball for the Dodgers that year and allowed just one run in 19 games out of the bullpen in High-A the ensuing year before he was dealt to the Baltimore Orioles as part of the package for Manny Machado that July.
He spent parts of two seasons in the O’s organization before he was taken by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the Rule 5 draft in December 2020. The D-Backs then flipped him to the Marlins. The Ontario Blue Jays and Junior National Team alum spent the entire 2021 season in the big leagues with the Marlins, posting a 1-0 record and a 4.12 ERA in 51 appearances, striking out 51 batters in 54 2/3 innings.
Pop’s two best pitches are a mid-to-high 90s fastball and a nasty slider.
The Blue Jays also landed Bass in the deal. The 34-year-old reliever’s name should sound familiar to Blue Jays fans. He posted a 3.51 ERA in 26 relief appearances for the Blue Jays in the pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign. Now in his 11th big league season, the well-travelled righty has been the Marlins’ best reliever this season. In 45 appearances, he owns a 1.41 ERA and has fanned 45 batters in 44 2/3 innings.
But the Blue Jays, who will also receive a player to be named later in the deal, paid a high price for the two relievers. Groshans was ranked as the team’s No. 3 prospect by Baseball America. Selected 12th overall by the Blue Jays in the 2018 draft, the 6-foot-3 infielder is in his fourth season in the organization.
Up until this season, Groshans, when healthy, had showcased a potent bat, hitting over .290 in each campaign between 2018 and 2021. In 2022, however, he has slumped to a .250 batting average with just one home run and nine total extra-base hits in 67 games with triple-A Buffalo. Keep in mind, however, that Groshans, who has been primarily a shortstop and third baseman in the minor leagues, is still just 22 and most scouts believe he has a promising future in the big leagues.
Looking forward to watching Pop and Romano in the bullpen together