The Toronto Blue Jays were active just after the Winter Meetings ended, signing three players to minor league deals in the hopes of a “buy-low” scenario. All three have major league experience and could help the big league club at some point in 2015.
Thanks to a tweet from Shi Davidi (and others), we know that the Blue Jays have signed right-handed pitcher Wilton Lopez, outfielder Caleb Gindl and infielder Jake Fox to minor league deals with invitations to spring training.
Lopez, a 31-year-old righty from Nicaragua, has appeared in the major league every year since 2009, with three tremendous seasons with Houston between 2010 and 2012. Most recently with Colorado, he didn’t have much of a chance in 2014 after a decent 2013, getting sent down to Triple-A Colorado Springs after four outings, his fourth being a particularly bad one in which he gave up three home runs (and six runs) in just 2/3 of an inning. Overall, however, Lopez has a 3.54 career ERA in 305 1/3 innings in the majors with a 3.30 career xFIP. He has an excellent 54.1% ground ball rate and, despite a fairly low 17.4% strikeout rate, has a very low 4.5% walk rate over his big league career. Lopez is a three-pitch pitcher with a fastball/slider/changeup combo with the fastball coming in just over 90 mph. He could be the ideal “low-risk, high-reward” type reliever that the Blue Jays are looking for in 2015.
Gindl, only 26, has a much more limited major league resume with 178 plate appearances over two seasons. In his rookie year of 2013, Gindl showed some promise with the bat, hitting .242/.340/.439 with five home runs in 155 plate appearances but followed that up with a poor showing in just eight games in 2014. Listed at 5-foot-9 and 210 pounds, Gindl has been an offensive machine in his minor league career, hitting .285/.360/.449 in over 3500 minor league at bats. Last season, he had a down year with Milwaukee’s Triple-A affiliate in Nashville, hitting .227/.310/.354 with just 20 doubles and eight home runs in 408 plate appearances. The biggest concern with Gindl is his inability to hit left-handed pitching: he hit .157/.246/.185 in 122 plate appearances against lefties in 2014. Gindl posts a high walk rate and an average strikeout rate and should be another left-handed bat to take a look at in spring training. His scouting reports suggests that he’s not a typical corner outfielder but he could put up “Melky-lite” numbers (particularly by walking more) if he’s needed at the big league level but, like Adam Lind, should only face right-handed pitchers.
32-year-old Jake Fox comes with major league experience in the 2009 through 2011 seasons but hasn’t been back to The Show since. Fox has played five positions (plus DH) in the major leagues over his career (catcher, first base, third base, right field, left field) but spent most of his time last year at first base with Double-A Reading (in the Phillies’ organization) and in Laguna of the Mexican League. Fox is being brought in for his bat which has provided a ton of power over his career with over 200 minor league home runs including 38 last year between Double-A (22 in 78 games) and Mexico (16 in 57 games). He hit for a combined .309/.387/.592 in the two leagues (plus five games in the independent Atlantic League). Fox also brings 20 major league home runs to the table in 193 games (but only 534 plate appearances). A right-handed hitter, Fox could be another utility option for the Blue Jays as a versatile (but mediocre) defensive player who can fill in at five positions including catcher.
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Who are these players? Find out in The 2014 Toronto Blue Jays Minor League Handbook, now available as an ebook at Smashwords.com, now at a reduced price of $2.99 US. You can purchase and preview the book at our Smashwords.com page!
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