It seems as if many former Jays players are either M.I.A. or have been released by their organization over the past month. This list includes Brett Lawrie and Dioner Navarro.
Personally, Navarro was one of my favourite Blue Jays and has been for a very long time. Whether it was because of his occasional clutch hit, or when he somehow found a police cap and cigar, Navarro was always the most beloved underrated Jays out there.
In 2016, the Blue Jays decided not to offer Navarro a contract. He ended up going to the Chicago White Sox after selecting their 1-year offer. Most Jays fans were upset, and not only because of his personality, but because of the great success he had catching Marco Estrada in 2015. During the time of the 2016 trade deadline, Shapiro and Atkins acquired Navarro, and he ended up coming back to help the team make a run for the 2016 playoffs. Because of this, Josh Thole was put on waivers and eventually cleared. Although, Thole and R.A. Dickey never played in the postseason (they were not on the roster), so having a catcher like Navarro on the team to backup Russell Martin during the playoffs was very crucial and beneficial for the Jays.
Throughout this past offseason, there were articles on the Jays Blogosphere, sharing opinions as to whether Navarro should be picked up by the Jays, or be left alone and eventually signed by another team. The Jays made their decision in the middle of the offseason, and decided to pick up catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia to a minor league deal (with bonuses if he makes the major league team). Therefore, there is no reason for the Jays to re-sign Navarro at this point.
It is currently March 15, 2017, and believe it or not, Dioner Navarro has yet to be acquired by an MLB organization. It is unknown if he has retired from baseball, or if there have been no offers made to him throughout the entire offseason.
A few weeks ago, news broke that Brett Lawrie was released by the Chicago White Sox. I assume he has some offers on the table currently, but he has decided to wait until some of his minor injuries have healed before he makes his way back into baseball for 2017.
Navarro could have some minor injuries, and be on the same plan that Lawrie is on. Although, he seemed to be healthy after the season ended in 2016, so I am not sure that that could be the case for him.
So, where is Navarro now? He is probably somewhere in his home relaxing and waiting to see how the season starts to play out. If he gets an offer, that would be fantastic for him. But as time goes on, teams will have less interest in having him as their backup catcher. It is quite unusual for a major league caliber catcher to not be signed by a team before pitchers and catchers report in February for spring training. Which leads me to think that baseball might not be for him anymore.
Last night, tweets were coming out sharing the possibility of the Toronto Blue Jays signing RHP Mat Latos to a minor league contract with an invite to spring training camp. Those rumours have been confirmed and a deal has been signed according to the Toronto Blue Jays (who are the #1 reliable source in Jays land!).
If you are not aware of who Latos is, last season he played for the Chicago White Sox and Washington Nationals as both a starter and reliever. In his early career with the San Diego Padres, Latos was an excellent pitcher and finished eighth in Cy-Young voting in 2010. He had been with four Major League franchises before selecting a one year contract with the Chicago White Sox in 2016. While starting with the White Sox, he had an amazing start, but a not so great ending. He signed a contract with the White Sox in the beginning of 2016 (in the offseason), and was thought of as their 5th starter. In his first four starts he pitched to an ERA of 0.74, but then allowed 29 earned runs in his next 36 innings pitched. Around the end of May (2016), the Chicago White Sox picked up James Shields (a starter essentially picked up to replace Latos) and was designated for assignment. He was then released. A few weeks later, Latos signed a minor league contract with the Washington Nationals, with whom he stayed with until just recently (recently as in today) signing with the Toronto Blue Jays. The route to pitching with the major league team was very slow, as he was assigned to their Rookie-level Gulf Field Coast League. After months of work in the minors to help improve him, he finally made his Nationals debut on September 4, 2016 against the New York Mets.
Today the deal was officially signed and announced (plus 30 minutes after it became official he walked onto the field wearing Jays Spring Training gear (it escalated very quickly needless today!). At this point, the deal seems to be a minor league deal with no word of how much it is worth or for how long. In short, this will give the Jays some potential pitching depth in both the bullpen and potential starting rotation (more to that in a moment).
Making it official this morning meant that over the course of today many Jays tweeters would think of some great puns about the guy (and his cat… Cat Latos). Trust me when I say they do not disappoint! Here are some of my favourites (to see all of my favourite tweets as soon as I see them, follow me on twitter here):
If you have been following the Jays closely throughout this long (and stress enduring) off season, you have probably seen talks somewhere about stretching out Joe Biagini to become a starter, or at least have a significant roll in the starting rotation (Joe has his own opinions on this subject matter, which I encourage you to watch here). If you recall, whenever a starting pitcher or a pitcher with a significant roll in the club became injured, the Jays would always call up Drew Hutchison. It is times like these that we forget the heavy roll that Hutchison played in the organization, although he spent most of his time with the Buffalo Bisons (the Toronto Blue Jays Triple-A affiliate team). With the signing of Mat Latos, the Jays can feel a bit more comfortable with the issue of not nessicarily having a back up pitcher to fill in the rotation.
Does the signing of Mat Latos affect Joe Biagini? The future is quite unclear with the answer to that question. If anything, it will leave the Jays with a tough decision (if Mat Latos shows real potential). If by chance Joe Biagini wins a fifth spot in the rotation, Mat Latos could fill the loss of Biagini in the bullpen, but I think that is a big risk as Biagini was one of the most effective players of the Jays bullpen last season. He was one of the star pitchers of last season thought the league, and being a rule 5 draft pick by the Jays made his story that much more interesting! Since the Jays have shared that they will not be limiting Aaron Sanchez like they did last year, the Jays need for a fifth starter is less significant than it was last year, but it’s reassuring to know that there are two guys that could fill the void, and do it successfully.
P.S. Here’s a picture of Mat Latos incredibly cute cat, “Cat Latos” which I expect to be a subject of discussion during some media interviews this Spring Training!
Can you believe that today is the last day without baseball for about 200 days?! This offseason has gone by quite fast, although looking back it was a long and stressful one. As you could probably tell, I took a short break from writing blog posts, since new ones will be coming out weekly from this point forward. Whether it may be truck day or seeing the newest workout videos from Marcus Stroman, Russel Martin or Josh Donaldson, and I think we can all agree that even the little things about Spring Training are making us more and more excited for baseball season!
I have done two posts about the 2017 free agent market, and everything revolving the Jays around it. You can read the original one here, and the first update here.
Since most of the free agents have been signed (minus Dioner Navarro, but I’m sure he will sign something soon since pitchers and catchers literally report tomorrow), I thought now would be the right time to see where everyone wound up after this crazy offseason.
NOTE: I will only be writing about free agents that signed after the last free agent post was made, therefore players such as Edwin Encarnacion and R.A. Dickey will not be talked about here.
- Jose Bautista
- I would say that the biggest stress of this offseason for all Jays fans (whether you may be a lifelong fan or a bandwagon fan) was in the fate of where Jose Bautista would wind up. Of course every Jays fan (or at least most) wanted Bautista back, and I cannot say that my opinion was different from this. To make things short, Bautista re-signed with the Blue Jays to a one year, $18 mil offer with – long and complicated – options for both 2018 and 2019. To read more about this (which I recommend), you can click here.
- Scott Feldman
- Just a few weeks ago, Scott Feldman signed with the Cincinnati Reds to a one year deal, $2.3 million.
- Dioner Navarro
- Navarro is still a free agent, and the only one left from the free agents on the 2016 Blue Jays roster.
- Michael Saunders
- Saunders signed a one year, $9 million contract with the Philadelphia Phillies.
- Gavin Floyd
- The Toronto Blue Jays signed Floyd to a one year minor league deal. He will once again be fighting for a spot on the 25-man roster to be a part of the bullpen.
- Josh Thole
- Thole signed a minor league contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
And that concludes the final Toronto Blue Jays 2017 Free Agent blog post series! Whenever Navarro signs, I will let you know via twitter.
I am incredibly excited for Spring Training to begin and to start seeing all of the boys back together playing baseball!
On January 18, 2017, José Bautista officially re-signed with the Toronto Blue Jays.
José Bautista is our generations version of Robbie Alomar. The guy who you can always count on for clutch-ness, and attitude. The Toronto Blue Jays home run king. The guy who shows his emotions and bat flip forms, and isn’t afraid to say what he feels. José Bautista will forever be a legend in Toronto.
Honestly, I didn’t think he would come back. Nearing the second week of January, I realized that if the Jays were going to bring him back, they would have done so already… but than a miracle happened.
AND I WENT CRAZY.
Immediately I flipped out, and had some fun late night discussions with my favourite Jays tweeters and bloggers. The feeling reminded me of those similar to when we would all have fun live tweeting Jays games every night, or freaking out during the trade deadline.
Many other reliable sources started to bring confirm the tweet shown above, including Jon Heyman, Jon Morosi and Ken Rosenthal.
But look at the date on that tweet. January 15. And now it is January 18 and he has been officially signed. The Jays seemed to want to figure out many different options for his contract and I should have assumed that it would have taken them a while to come to a complete deal. Although someone did manage to confirm it all on his own…
Then, a tweet came out mentioning the still very real possibility of him either going to the Tampa Bay Rays or the Cleveland Indians.
And it led many of us to feel like this.
Finally, on January 18 the discussions had come to an end, and the Jays finally figured out the deal and confirmed it on twitter.
The offer seems to be $18 million for 2017, a mutual option for 2018 of $17 million ($500K buyout) and a vesting option for 2019 of $20 million. To translate, this year he will be a Blue Jay, next season if BOTH Bautista and the Jays agree for him to come back he will (mutual options are very un-likely to happen), and if he meets certain requirements during the ’17 and ’18 season, he can come back if again both the Jays and Bautista are in agreement. We are not 100% sure what these vesting requirements are, but I have heard from multiple reliable sources that he would have to play 300 games throughout both seasons (technically 150 games/season) and healthy (not many trips to the DL like the 2016 season). More details from this contract will be released over the next few days if details have been left out.
I know multiple people among my own family and friends who didn’t want him back. “A problem in the clubhouse” they said, “damaged goods” others said. There were also many people on Twitter and around MLB that didn’t want him back with the Jays. But, you know who did want him back? The majority of his former team mates. Those are the opinions that matter, not the media or fans.
I am one of the fans that wanted him back. Even though most of us would have rather had Edwin Encarnacion, I am extremely happy with Bautista. In my mind, if Bautista would have left, I would have been so incredibly heartbroken, and I wasn’t really feeling like that when Edwin left.
You have to realize that when we have kids or young family members in the future who weren’t fortunate enough to see the 2015-2016 Toronto Blue Jays play, the first name we will mention to them is José Bautista. Not Encarnacion, Stroman or Pillar, maybe not even Josh Donaldson. It will be Bautista. Bautista will be the face of the Jays long after he retires. We will always remember the Bat Flip and where we were when it happened. It will forever be a part of Toronto Blue Jays history and so will José Bautista.
P.S. Remember this?
The 2017 arbitration deadline happened on Friday January 13, 2017 at 1:00pm EST.
A handful of Blue Jays players were wanting to avoid arbitration, and agree on a new 2017 salary. The Blue Jays who agreed on salaries were:
- INF Darwin Barney ($2,887,500 – 1 year)
- OF Ezequiel Carrera ($1,162,500 – 1 year)
- RHP Aaron Loup ($1,125,000 – 1 year)
Like last year, there is one key player of our team left off of this list. Last year it was Josh Donaldson (he ended up getting this), but this year it is Marcus Stroman. Hopefully the Jays will be able to sign him to some sort of multi-year deal to avoid arbitration. Apparently, they were negotiating about $300,000, which in the grand scheme of things is not that much. We shall see how things turn out in the coming weeks… only 29 days left until pitchers and catchers report!!!
I actually did a post on Jays arbitration news post for the 2016 season, and you can read it here.