The Blue Jays were busy Friday morning ahead of the 1 pm deadline to exchange arbitration figures signing six players.
The Blue Jays came to terms on one-year deals with Brett Cecil ($3.8million), Steve Delebar ($850,000), Drew Storen ($8.375 million), Aaron Loup ($1.05 million), Drew Hutchison ($2.2 million) and Michael Saunders ($2.9 million).
The Blue Jays were unable to come to terms with Jesse Chavez and American League MVP Josh Donaldson. The Blue Jays offered Chavez $3.6 million while he asked for $4 million. Donaldson asked for $11.8 million while the Blue Jays offered $11.375 million.
In Donaldson’s case, I know it is part of the process of the arbitration system, but to the fans that have endured a disappointing off-season going to arbitration over $450, 000 to the American League MVP just reeks of pettiness from an ownership that have been accused of being cheap. Realistically Donaldson should win his arbitration case so in the end he will most likely will get his $11.8 million dollars.
The Blue Jays are still a File and trial team so there won’t be any deals announced with Donaldson or Chavez before their arbitration cases.
This is the last year of arbitration for Cecil, Storen, Saunders and Chavez who will all be Free Agents at the end of the 2016 season.
The Toronto Blue Jays have added more depth to their outfield by signing former White Sox outfielder Dayan Viciedo to a minor league deal according to a Ken Rosenthal tweet
Viciedo, according to a tweet by Shi Davidi, will see time in Left Field, Third Base and First Base although Viciedo has limited experience at the infield positions.
Viciedo a career .254/.298/.424 hitter in his five big league seasons with the White Sox, and has some power in his bat hitting more than 20 home runs two of the past three seasons. He excels more against lefties than he does right handers, hitting .291/.331/.507 against left handers.
If Viciedo makes the major league roster he would be under team control until 2017 and will be in the battle to win a spot as the teams fourth outfielder and could get action in left while Michael Saunders recovers from his meniscus injury.
The Blue Jays turned to a familiar face to compete for a spot in the bullpen as they signed Luis Perez to a minor league deal Friday.
Perez, who originally signed with the Blue Jays as an amateur free agent in 2003, is looking to bounce back after missing the majority of the last two seasons with injuries.
Perez enjoyed a breakout year in 2012 working out of the Blue Jays pen appearing 35 games pitching 42 innings and striking out 39 batters. His season was cut short in July of that season when he suffered tightness in his pitching elbow forcing him to undergo Tommy John Surgery later that season.
Perez made his return from Tommy John Surgery as a September call-up in 2013 and only pitched five innings while striking out six.
Perez was released by the Blue Jays during Spring Training last year before signing with the Atlanta Braves, however, Perez never pitched in a game as he spent all season DL, probably still dealing with the elbow injury.
Perez, like a lot of Alex Anthopoulos’ off-season acquisitions, is a good low-risk high reward candidate and with Brett Cecil possibly moving into the closer’s role this season Perez could very well become the Jays’ LOOGY out of the bullpen if he can show that he is completely back healthy again.
Also on Friday, Danny Valencia became the first Blue Jay player since Roberto Alomar to win an arbitration case against the team. Valencia was awarded $1.675 million, the Blue Jays had offered $1.2 million. Valencia is also the first player to go to an arbitration hearing since Bill Risley in 1997. Josh Donaldson is also headed towards an appeal after the Blue Jays offered him $4.3 million, while Donaldson has asked for 5.75 million dollars.
While we’re on the topic of arbitration, Minor Leaguer over at Blue Bird Banter has a list of all the Blue Jays arbitration hearings in team history. The odd thing about the list is all the position players have won their hearings while pitchers have never won their hearings. With that kind of history it’s not real hard to imagine how the Donaldson hearing ends up.
The Blue Jays finally went out and spent money in the Free Agency Market and signing catcher Russell Martin to a 5 year 82 million dollar deal. The Martin signing is the longest Free Agent deal that Alex Anthopoulos has made during his tenure as Blue Jays General Manager. The Martin deal surpasses A.J Burnett’s five-year 55 million contract he signed in during the J.P Richardi regime as the biggest Free Agent signing in club history.
Sure the deal may be a bit of an overpay but it addresses an upgrade to the catching position that the Blue Jays could definitely use. Martin comes advertised as one of the best pitch framers in the game where he was third amongst catchers at generating strike calls, something that couldn’t be said for Dioner Navarro, Martin is also great at shutting down the opponents base stealers as he threw out 37 percent of would be base stealers in 2014. Martin is also considered one of the better catchers at calling a game, although I didn’t think that Navarro was all that bad of a game caller. Martin is also considered a great clubhouse leader, so there is that if you’re into the whole leadership thing that is often overblown in the Toronto media.
Then you have Martin’s offensive abilities to throw into the mix as well. Martin hit .290/.402/.430 last season with Pittsburgh. Martin hit 11 home runs and had an OPS plus of 136. Martin had a WAR of 5.5 as well. For Martin’s career he has a career line of .259/.354/.399 over a span of nine seasons.
With Martin on board it gives the Blue Jays three catchers on their roster again. It could mean that Josh Thole’s days as a Blue Jay would be numbered, a scenario many Blue Jays fans are hoping for as Thole’s lack of offensive production and who’s only role is being R.A Dickey’s personal caddy hasn’t justified him holding a roster spot in many fans opinions. Navarro who proved he was durable to last a full season in 2014 could be an admiral back-up catcher who could fill in if Martin were to go down with an injury. Navarro could also spend some time at DH or come off the bench as a late inning pinch hitter.
The other good news about this signing is that Rogers is finally showing that they are willing to spend money in the free agent market and with the Blue Jays being linked to other rumours on Free Agents it’s also showing that maybe they are ready to be active players in Free Agency. According to Jose Bautista in an interview with MLB radio last week claimed that the Blue Jays had 20-30 million to spend this winter. If that is indeed the truth then the Blue Jays still have between four and fifteen million left to spend.
The next step for AA is to fill holes at Second base, Left field, Center Field and in the Bullpen. I am quietly optimistic that the Blue Jays will fill those mentioned holes after this unexpected start to Free Agency.
The Toronto Blue Jays added another depth player to their roster tonight by acquiring John Mayberry Jr. from the Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for minor league third baseman Gustavo Pierre according to several sources.
Mayberry Jr. 30, whose father John played four seasons for the Toronto Blue Jays from 1978-1982, was a first round pick of the Texas Rangers 19th overall in 2005.
Mayberry Jr plays first base and all three outfield positions so it’s not clear where he’ll fit in or get playing time with the Blue Jays.
Mayberry Jr. has been on the DL since June 21st with a wrist injury and was on a rehab assignment at the time of the trade.
Mayberry Jr. has hit 213/304/418 with six home runs in 138 plate apperances this season with Philadelphia. Mayberry Jr is in his sixth Major League season and is arbitration eligible in 2015 and is eligible for Free Agency in 2017.