This is the first in a series of 12 posts, looking at the ups and downs of the 2013 calendar year for the Toronto Blue Jays. Starting with January, we’ll take a look at the month-by-month happenings for Toronto, including notables signings, game trends, and other items that shaped the 2013 season for the Blue Jays.
Much of Alex Anthopoulos’s offseason business was already behind him when the calendar changed from 2012 to 2013. Already in the bag were the trades that netted the Blue Jays Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Jose Reyes, Emilio Bonifacio, Josh Thole, R.A. Dickey, and Mike Nickeas. Also joining the fold before the holiday break were Melky Cabrera and Maicer Izturis via free agency. Needless to say, Blue Jays fans rolled into 2013 with their heads in the clouds and dreams of a World Series on their heads.
January 11, 2013 – Blue Jays sign Henry Blanco to a minor league contract with an invitation to Spring Training. The 41-year-old Blanco would win the spring battle with Josh Thole for the team’s back-up catcher role, mostly due to the fact that Thole still held minor league option. Blanco would appear in just 15 games for the Blue Jays, and hitting .184 before being released on June 11th.
January 12, 2013- Blue Jays sign first baseman Adam Loewen to a minor league deal.
January 15, 2013 – Blue Jays sign RHP Austin Bibens-Dirxx to a minor league deal.
January 22, 2013 – Blue Jays sign second baseman Mark DeRosa to a one-year contract with a team option for 2014. DeRosa would prove invaluable to the Blue Jays in 2013, appearing in 88 games and hitting a decent .235 with 7 home runs and 36 RBI. He also provided solid veteran leadership and served as a mentor for young third baseman Brett Lawrie. DeRosa would have his option picked up by the Blue Jays, but ultimately decided to hang up his cleats following the 2013 season.
January 30, 2013 – Blue Jays sign third baseman Andy LaRoche to a minor league deal. LaRoche would spend most of the season at Triple-A Buffalo, hitting .271 with 12 home runs and 51 RBI. He would see a one-game call-up to Toronto, but received only four hitless at bats before being optioned back to Buffalo. Toronto would re-sign LaRoche during the 2013-2014 offseason.
Notable Player Losses
January 22, 2013 – Blue Jays designate RHP Sam Dyson for assignment. The move was made in conjunction with the signing of Mark DeRosa, in order to clear 40-man roster space. Dyson would be claimed by the Miami Marlins on January 30th and would pitch at four different levels for the Marlins in 2013. He would post a 4-11 record in the minors with a 2.67 ERA and 5.0 K/9 ratio in the minors, but would be lit up at the Major League level, allowing 11 earned runs over 11 innings and 5 appearances for the Marlins.
Notable Press Releases
January 7, 2013 – Blue Jays announce their minor league coaching staffs for 2013. The only notable surprise was Sal Fasano not returning to manage the Double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats. Fasano, who was the 2011 Eastern League Manager of the Year, would stay with the organization however, taking a role as the team’s roving catching instructor.
January 10, 2013 – The Blue Jays are presented with the 2012 Commissioner’s Award for Philanthropic Excellence. Toronto was cited for their ongoing efforts through the Jays Care Foundation and the Toronto Blue Jays Baseball Academy.
January 16, 2013 – The Blue Jays announce that Darren Oliver will return for his 20th and final season. The veteran lefty was said to be considering retirement if he could not force a trade to his hometown Texas Rangers, but the Blue Jays didn’t budge. Ultimately, Oliver opted for a shot at a championship with what appeared to be an improved Blue Jays roster.
January 25, 2013 – The Blue Jays and Vancouver Canadians agree to extend their mutual player development contract through the 2016 season. The team celebrated with its third straight Northwest League Championship and capped off the year with receipt of the John H. Johnson President’s Trophy, which recognizes minor league baseball’s top organization, making them the first Canadian franchise to win the prestigious award.