That officially begins now, as players have already begun filing for free agency. For the Toronto Blue Jays, that also means that some players on the current 40-man roster will be declaring as well, with some likely to sign with other teams, which is allowed to start at midnight Friday evening.
The following Blue Jays are eligible to hit the market this winter:
Omar Vizquel – Shortstop – 60 Games, .235 Avg. 7 RBI
His mention here is merely a formality. The 45-year-old was on a one-year contract with the Jays, but he has already declared his intention to retire as a player and pursue a coaching career. Even if he had not, it was doubtful the Blue Jays would have looked to bring him back next season, veteran leadership or not.
Jason Frasor – Relief Pitcher – 50 games, 1-1, 4.12 ERA, 43.2 IP, 53 SO
It was another in a bevy of average seasons for Frasor, who returned to Toronto after being traded to the White Sox at the 2011 deadline. Frasor earned $3.725 in 2012 and Toronto could look to bring him back on a similar deal.
Carlos Villanueva – SP/RP – 38 games, 16 starts, 7-7, 4.16 ERA, 125.1 IP, 122 SO
Villanueva proved himself invaluable during the middle of the season, jumping into a starting role when injuries decimated the rotation. His performance made for an interesting argument about whether the Jays would be smart to resign him at a significant raise and make him a full-time starter. However, he went a combined 1-7 in August and September with a 5.37 ERA, likely showing that the increased workload was wearing on him. He’ll test the market and it will be doubtful that Toronto will meet his asking price or his demands to be a starter.
Kelly Johnson – Second Baseman – 142 games, .225 Avg, 15 HR, 55 RBI
There is really much to say here. Johnson was a huge disappointment for Toronto in 2012, setting the club strikeout record (159) in the process. This is an area of improvement for the Blue Jays, which they may have already addressed with the addition of Mike Aviles as compensation for John Farrell. Johnson will try to rebuild his career elsewhere in 2013.
Brandon Lyon – Relief Pitcher – 67 games, 4-2, 3.10 ERA, 61 IP, 63 SO
It is safe to say that Lyon was a welcome upgrade over Francisco Cordero for the Toronto Blue Jays. In 30 games for Toronto, Lyon was 4-0 with a 2.88 ERA and 28 strike-outs in 25 innings-pitched for the Blue Jays. At $5.5 million in 2012, Lyon may be a bit expensive as a middle-reliever, but he certainly earned the ability to come back in 2013 should the Jays wish to resign him.
Darren Oliver – Relief Pitcher – 62 games, 3-4, 2.06 ERA, 56.2 IP, 52 SO
At 41-years-old, Oliver just continues to get better and the Blue Jays knew that, signing him to a 1-year deal for $4 million and a $3 million option for 2013. There is no doubt that Toronto would love to have him back in 2013 and will likely exercise his option immediately. However, Oliver has hinted at retirement and the Blue Jays will want to get his commitment to next season before giving him theirs.
Rajai Davis – Outfielder – 142 games, .257 Avg, 8 HR, 43 RBI, 46 SB
Like Oliver, the Blue Jays own a club-friendly option on Rajai Davis for 2013. The trouble the team has is whether or not they are willing to pay $3 million to essentially a fourth outfielder, for speed alone. The choice to bring back that option may be one of the tougher choices Anthopoulos has to make this winter, but he’ll have only three days to make that decision.