We reported last week that the Toronto Blue Jays had signed pitcher A.J. Cole to a minor league deal but the Blue Jays announced today that they had signed another four players to minor league deals with invites to major league spring training.
In addition to Cole, the Blue Jays re-upped with infielders Andy Burns and Patrick Kivlehan while signing Phillippe Aumont and Justin Miller on the pitching side.
Miller, 32, is the only one of this group who has no previous Blue Jays ties. Miller made his big league debut in 2014 and was very strong in Washington’s bullpen in 2018 with a 3.61 ERA and 1.13 WHIP in 52 1/3 innings, striking out 60 and walking 17 but he only pitched 15 2/3 in the majors in 2019, seeing his strikeout rate drop dramatically (with just 11 Ks and four walks) while posting a 4.02 ERA and 1.28 WHIP and a 7.11 FIP as he allowed five home runs in those 15 2/3 innings. He spent a good deal of time in the minors but was also injured, spending time on the 60-day IL with a rotator cuff strain as well as a hamstring strain earlier in the season.
Aumont, 30, was in the Blue Jays’ system in 2015, pitching five times for the Buffalo Bisons. He spent 2017 with Ottawa in the Can-Am League and pitched in Detroit’s organization in 2018. The 6-foot-7 righthander pitched again with Ottawa (and with Canada in the Premier 12 Tournament), posting a 2.65 ERA and 1.11 WHIP over 118 2/3 innings, striking out 145 batters and walking just 23, earning him another shot with the only team in his home country.
Andy Burns returned to Toronto’s organization last year after two years in Korea and posted some very solid numbers in Buffalo, hitting .275/.364/.450 with 17 doubles, three triples and 19 home runs. He’s also been playing with Sydney in the Australian Baseball League and has been dominant, with a .458/.519/.750 slash line through 24 at bats, hitting a double and two home runs.
Kivlehan, who will be 30 on December 22, was another minor league standout in the Blue Jays’ organization last year, leading the system in home runs, despite coming over to the Jays in a trade with Pittsburgh in May of 2019. Kivlehan hit 32 home runs last year, 25 of them with Buffalo and three more with New Hampshire, as he was our runaway Player of the Year for the Buffalo Bisons.
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