The Toronto Blue Jays had 26 minor leaguers declare or elect free agency this off-season and we’ll bring you an update as to what’s going on so far.
Before I talk about a select group of free agents, here’s a complete list (thanks to Baseball America’s Minor League Free Agent Tracker):
Kevin Ahrens – 3B – Age 24
Daniel Arcila – 2B – Age 23
Chad Beck – RHP – Age 28
Tyson Brummett – RHP – Age 29
Dave Bush – RHP – Age 34
Buddy Carlyle – RHP – Age 35
Joel Carreno – RHP – Age 26 – Signed with NY Mets
Willie Collazo – LHP – Age 34
Brian Compton – C – Age 24
Oliver Dominguez – 2B – Age 24
Alan Farina – RHP – Age 27
Blake Gailen – OF – Age 28
Justin Germano – RHP – Age 31
Tommy Hottovy – LHP – Age 32
Luis Jimenez – 1B – Age 31
Andy LaRoche – 3B – Age 30 – Resigned with Blue Jays
Adam Loewen – OF – Age 29
Mike McCoy – SS – Age 32 – Signed with Red Sox
Ricardo Nanita – OF – Age 32
Jim Negrych – 2B – Age 28
Juan Perez – LHP – Age 35 – Resigned with Blue Jays
Clint Robinson – 1B – Age 28 – Signed with Dodgers
Jon Talley – 1B – Age 24
John Tolisano – 2B – Age 25
Marcus Walden – RHP – Age 25 – Resigned with Blue Jays
Chien-Ming Wang – RHP – Age 33
Lance Zawadzki – 2B – Age 28
Amadeo Zazueta – SS – Age 27
Of this group, some are guys that the Blue Jays drafted or signed as international free agents and have kept around for seven minor league seasons. These include Ahrens, Arcila, Carreno, Dominguez, Farina, Talley, Tolisano and Walden.
The rest were either signed as minor league free agents or traded for and have now become free agents. A lot of these players are looking for greener pastures and more opportunities in another team’s high minor leagues. Some who joined the Blue Jays were probably frustrated to some degree when they were bypassed for higher levels when they seemed to have fit the need (Jim Negrych especially) and others were players that I’m sure the Blue Jays felt had had their chances and but needed the room in the system for others.
Including the players resigned, the Blue Jays have only signed six minor league free agents so far. The new additions are Mike Broadway (RHP), Jonathan Diaz (SS) and Dan Johnson (1B).
I’m glad that the Blue Jays re-signed Walden and LaRoche’s resigning means that Andy Burns probably starts 2014 in New Hampshire. With Clint Robinson, Luis Jimenez, Mauro Gomez (claimed on waivers) and Jon Talley gone, it’s going to create a lot more space in the upper levels of the Blue Jays’s system for first basemen. This space is badly needed with a big cluster of guys moving up from the Dunedin level. I’m planning a series of pieces on positional strengths throughout the system and I’ll elaborate on where I think some of these players, including Gabe Jacobo, K.C. Hobson, Jordan Leyland, Kevin Patterson, L.B. Dantzler, Matt Dean and Rowdy Tellez are going to be next year.
The biggest loss I think the Blue Jays will feel is Joel Carreno. I’ve seen some reactions by Mets blogs and many agree with me that Carreno could definitely be one of the steals off the offseason. Baseball America’s Ben Badler highlighted Carreno in a November 14 article on intriguing minor league free agents:
“The Mets quickly snapped up righthander Joel Carreno, who could be one of the steals (a relative term, of course) of the minor league free agent class. Carreno, who turns 27 in March, throws in the low 90s with a curveball that can help him miss bats, something he did more of in 2013 than ever before, perhaps in part because the Blue Jays made him a full-time reliever for the first time in his career. After striking out 25 percent of batters in his minor league career, Carreno’s strikeout rate jumped to 34 percent last year between Double-A New Hampshire and Triple-A Buffalo with a 2.43 composite ERA. Now he’s pitching well for Escogido in the Dominican League. The Red Sox just paid $4 million for 27-year-old Cuban righthander Dalier Hinojosa, who might not even be as good as Carreno.”
With the depth that the Blue Jays have in the bullpen (including five pitchers who are out of options), Carreno was probably seen as unlikely to crack the lineup but I think that he’s probably better than some of the current options.
I like the re-signing of Marcus Walden, mainly because I want to see more of him at a higher level. After a solid full season in Double-A, Walden could also still have some value mainly due to his ability to induce ground balls and eat up innings. Marc Hulet at Fangraphs likes Walden and even suggests keeping an eye on him for the Rule 5 Draft.
Outside of the guys who have already been resigned, there isn’t anyone on the list that I think the Blue Jays need to resign. I was really impressed by Adam Loewen’s versatility and his season last year. He showed himself to be very capable playing center field and even got some time in at first base. He had very solid year with the bat (especially when you consider his slow start) and he could certainly contribute to the Bisons next year (I wouldn’t put him back in Double-A again). That said, if Anthony Gose returns to Buffalo next year, Loewen wouldn’t be needed and I’d rather he finds another organization to play at the Triple-A level than come back to the Jays to play in New Hampshire.
Who would you like to see resigned to play in the Blue Jays’ minor leagues?