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Veteran Free Agents Who May Bring Leadership To The Blue Jays

It’s difficult to quantify just how much leadership helps to create a winning team. Teammates hail David Ortiz as being a great example of veteran leadership. In game four of this year’s World Series, “Big Papi” held a huddle, and the Red Sox would go on to rally and win. So maybe it does count for something.

The Jays have certainly tried to have someone with veteran leadership over the past years with Omar Vizquel and Mark DeRosa—now both retired. Ideally the Jays want not only a leader in the clubhouse, but someone like Vizquel or DeRosa who can exemplify leadership with strong play on the field as well.

Here’s a look at some experienced free agents over the age of 35, and what they may offer in terms of leadership.

Carlos Beltran

Beltran’s leadership took the Cardinals to the World Series where he sacrificed his body to rob David Ortiz of a homerun in game one of the series. This year his contributions on and off the field won him the Roberto Clemente award. This past season he lost a bit of power, but made up for it with a slash line of .296/.339/.491. Turning 37 in April, Beltran is looking to sign a three or four year deal, which may be too big of a contract for the Jays. With his age, moving into a DH role in the AL makes a lot of sense. Recent reports indicate that the Red Sox are in talks to land him.

A.J. Pierzynski

At 37 years old Pierzynski still has terrific durability to get behind the plate as a catcher. Last season he hit .272 with 17 homeruns. While this would fill a need for the Jays, there has been plenty chatter about Pierzynski being unlikable. His former manager, Ozzie Guillen, said, “If you play against him, you hate him. If you play with him, you hate him a little less.” While his drive may be admirable, he may not be what the Jays need in terms of veteran leadership.

Raul Ibanez

42-year old Ibañez only hit for .242 this year, and has consistently hit in the .240s for his past three seasons. But last year he also hit 29 homeruns over 124 games. If he’d be willing to be a role player on a team, the Jays may have some interest.

Manager Eric Wedge was quoted regarding what Ibanez brings to a ball club:

“You can make an argument that Raul Ibañez is as good as anybody in the game in regard to performing and playing. That’s why you sign him, to be a baseball player. But beyond that, there are the intangibles he brings as a guy who has been part of championship clubs and really done everything in the game.”

At this point the Yankees—who had him in 2012—are again interested in signing him to a deal.

Jose Molina

When the Jays signed Molina for the 2010 season, Alex Anthopoulos praised his leadership and game-calling ability, and he took note of his ability to bring along young players and help pitchers. With a couple years with the Rays he only has more experience to bring.

Signing Molina again may help to platoon with someone else at catcher, but it would be with a definite sacrifice of offense. And although his defense is often praised as being solid, some statistics show otherwise. Still, aspects like game-calling and pitch-framing are more difficult to measure.

Michael Young

When reports came out in 2011 about the Rangers looking to deal Michael Young, Josh Hamilton was very critical, praising Young’s leadership and durability. Last season Young hit for .279 with 8 home runs, playing for both the Phillies and Dodgers.

He would be an interesting fit, helping to work with some of the young infielders such as Brett Lawrie and Ryan Goins. Rumours have swirled about a possible retirement for Young, however.

We will need to wait and see whether or not the Jays look to replace DeRosa.

Are there any veteran free agents you would like to see the Jays sign this off-season?

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Tags: A.J. Pierzynski Toronto Blue Jays

  • Justin Jay

    Of the guys you mentioned, Ibanez is probably the best, but where would you put him? Platoon OF? DH? I watched what Beltran did with the Mets and I wasn’t impressed. I’d say Yadier Molina and Matt Holliday are bigger leaders of that Cardinals club… Chris Carpenter too.

    I’m a fan of Michael Young at 2B. I think he could do a lot for Goins. Great suggestion. He was one of the guys when Josh Hamilton came to Texas, that was there to support what Hamilton needed to be successful and stay away from drugs and alcohol.

    Jose Molina will bring aggravation for a lack of a bat and his super slow baserunning speed… but he’s a huge upgrade behind the plate. I have mixed feelings on him. He wasn’t spectacular in TB. I thought Lobaton was better.

    AJ… great idea in theory, but like you said.. don’t bother. Good stuff Rob

  • Andrew van Laar

    I would love Young to come and be Lind’s platoon partner plus he can play anywhere on the infield in case of a injury to Reyes or Lawrie. Question is, how much will he cost to bring in? Also, with him as full time 2B (I doubt he would come if he was off the bench), then Goins goes down to the farm or Izturis gets traded. Or they may keep both those guys and Young. Do you think he’s good enough to be full time 2B and DH in place of Lind against LHP?

  • RyanMueller

    Like the other comments, I like Young. Youkilis, Ellis, and to a lesser extent Polanco would also be nice fits, but might cost too much.

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