Catching up on what the Blue Jays have been up to, we have a few transactions to round up here including the re-signing of Joe Panik, the DFA of Derek Fisher, and the invitation of minor league free agents.
The Jays have made one moderate free agent signing: getting David Phelps on a one-year deal for $1.75 million. Phelps was still pretty good in 2019 when he pitched part of the year for the Toronto Blue Jays (3.63 ERA and 1.21 WHIP in 17 1/3 innings) before he was traded to the Chicago Cubs at the deadline, bringing Tom Hatch back. He has been a solid reliever but is coming off a weaker season in 2020, logging 20 2/3 innings between Milwaukee and Philadelphia. He was outstanding with Milwaukee, posting a 2.77 ERA and 0.69 WHIP over 13 innings, striking out 20 and walking just two but gave up 11 runs in 7 2/3 innings with Philadelphia.
In bolstering their bullpen, the Blue Jays have also claimed 26-year-old righty Joel Payamps off waivers from the Boston Red Sox. Payamps, a Dominican native who first signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks, has made just four appearances in the major leagues over two seasons (2019 and 2020) and has five strikeouts and six walks in seven innings, allowing three earned runs. Payamps was DFAed by the Diamondbacks in November and claimed by the Red Sox. He’s averaged 94.2 mph on his fastball in 2020 and 93.2 mph in 2019.
To make room on the 40-man roster for Payamps, the Blue Jays designated Shun Yamaguchi for assignment, ultimately releasing him. Yamaguchi had an 8.06 ERA in 2020 over 25 2/3 innings, striking out 26 but walking 17 and giving up six home runs.
The Blue Jays also signed lefty Francisco Liriano to a minor league deal, paying him $1.5 million if he makes the major league team plus performance bonuses, as reported by Shi Davidi.
The Jays also signed Joe Panik to a minor league deal and will pay him $1.85 million if he makes the big leagues in addition to up to $400,000 in incentives.
The Jays also signed Connor Overton to a minor league deal. Overton has been in the Blue Jays’ minor league system before.
In other news, the Blue Jays released their list of non-roster invitees for spring training which, if all things go on schedule, should begin in just a few days.
In alphabetical order, the Blue Jays are inviting the following non-roster players to camp:
LHP Nick Allgeyer
RHP Bryan Baker
RHP Anthony Castro
C Philip Clarke
RHP A.J. Cole
INF Jordan Groshans
INF Miguel Hiraldo
INF Leonardo Jimenez
RHP Adam Kloffenstein
RHP Francisco Liriano
RHP Alek Manoah
INF Austin Martin
INF Orelvis Martinez
LHP Tim Mayza
RHP Joey Murray
OF Ryan Noda
INF Joe Panik
RHP Jackson Rees
INF Kevin Smith
LHP Kirby Snead
INF Richard Urena
RHP CJ Van Eyk
OF Forrest Wall
INF Tyler WHite
RHP Simeon Woods Richardson
OF Chavez Young
RHP Yosver Zulueta
Let’s break down this list a little bit. In the “expected” category are all the guys whom the Blue Jays signed on minor league deals, adding in the major league camp invitation to sweeten the deal. Guys like A.J. Cole, Francisco Liriano, Tim Mayza, Joe Panik, Richard Urena and Tyler White all have big league experience and their getting added to MLB spring training was almost a no-brainer. Forrest Wall was in the system last year and re-signed after becoming a free agent, getting his chance to join MLB training camp for 2021.
Anthony Castro gets the invite after having been claimed off waivers and then sent to the minors outright, taking him off the 40-man roster, in essence, giving him the spot in camp he would have gotten as a member of the 40-man roster.
Another group of players are those who impressed at last year’s Alternate Training Site in Rochester. Top prospects like Jordan Groshans, Miguel Hiraldo, Orelvis Martinez, Alek Manoah, Austin Martin and Simeon Woods Richardson all fit into this category. Joey Murray was another pitcher who the Blue Jays liked and pitched in the Alternate Training Site.
Finally, there are others like Nick Allgeyer, Bryan Baker, Philip Clarke, Leonardo Jimenez, Adam Kloffenstein, Ryan Noda, Jackson Rees, Kevin Smith, Kirby Snead, CJ Van Eyk, Logan Warmoth, Chavez Young and Yosver Zulueta who may not ring a ton of bells as prospects.
Of course, guys like Warmoth and Smith have seen their prospect brightness fade over the past couple of years but both were hot at one point. Chavez Young had gone to the Australian Baseball League this winter but an early injury prevented him from getting a lot of playing time. C.J. Van Eyk was the Jays’ second-round pick in the draft in 2020 and Philip Clarke was a significant name a couple of years ago as a catcher coming out of the College-World-Series-winning Vanderbilt team.
Baker is a fireballing righty and Allgeyer is a control/finesse lefty. Snead is a sidearming lefty who’s reached Triple-A and Jackson Rees, despite never pitching higher than A-ball, was the team’s reliever of the year the last time minor league baseball was played in 2019.
Noda is a walk machine with some pop who’s reached Advanced-A and Kloffenstein pitched last year in independent ball, opening some eyes. Finally, Yosver Zulueta is a fireballing righty out of Cuba whom the Blue Jays signed for a million dollars and then had him get Tommy John surgery so this will likely be the first real competition he sees.
What do you think about the Jays’ recent moves?
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