Blue Jays Close To Signing Darren Oliver?

Another year, another Rangers reliever being targeted by Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos.

According to Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News, two major league sources have told him that left-handed relief pitcher Darren Oliver is close to signing a deal with the Blue Jays. In terms of relievers, Oliver has been as dependable as they come.

He has thrown at least 50 innings in each of his past six seasons and fashioned a tidy 2.97 ERA over that span, but his 2011 campaign at 40 years old was actually the best of his career. In 51 innings for the Rangers last season, Oliver managed a career-low 2.29 ERA (2.77 FIP), while also establishing career-lows in home runs with three (0.5 HR/9) and walks with 11 (1.9 BB/9).

A veteran of 17 major league seasons with stops in Texas, St. Louis, Boston, Colorado, Florida, Houston, New York (Mets) and Anaheim Los Angeles, Oliver would provide John Farrell with another late-inning relief option to but also a more dependable left-handed arm than Luis Perez, the only other southpaw in the Jays’ pen at the moment.

According to Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi, though, any deal with Oliver won’t likely be finalized until after the New Year. Sources told Davidi that the two parties are still in discussions and it’s difficult to schedule a physical during the holidays.

Oliver is a modified Type-B free agent as a result of the new collective bargaining agreement, so any team looking to sign him no longer has to surrender a draft pick, though Texas would still receives a compensation pick in next year’s draft.

Oliver made $3.25 million last season so I could certainly see Anthopoulos offering him a one-year, $3.75 million contract for next season with a $4 million club option for 2013 — a similar structure he used last winter when inking Jon Rauch, Jason Frasor, and Octavio Dotel.

- JM

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