The Toronto Blue Jays stayed fairly quiet at the baseball’s Winter Meetings this past week, not finding much to their liking in terms of pricing or available trades. Instead, it appears that General Manager Alex Anthopoulos and his team used their time to add some depth pieces at the minor league level, according to Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.
The team came to terms on minor league contracts with three players, reliever Wilton Lopez, OF Caleb Gindl, and corner infielder Jake Fox, inviting all three players to Spring Training in February.
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Of the group, Wilton Lopez may be the most intriguing. Given the team’s need for bullpen help, Lopez may actually get a serious look this winter. The 30-year-old from Nicaragua was a stellar reliever for the Houston Astros from 2010-2012, posting a 13-11 record, a 2.64 ERA, a 2.92 FIP, and a solid 5.16 K/W ratio over that period. However, after being traded to the Colorado Rockies for prospects prior to 2013, he has struggled to a 4.63 ERA and 3.91 FIP over the last two season.
After spending most of last season back at Triple-A, the Blue Jays would love to see Lopez rebound to his pre-Coors Field form. With team control for two seasons if he does, this has a chance to be a big win for the Toronto Blue Jays.
Next up is Caleb Gindl, a former Milwaukee Brewers prospect, who at 26-years-old, still has some upside left. In 8 minor league seasons, Gindl has shown some solid gap power and ability to hit, putting together a batting line of .285/.360/.449 with 199 doubles and 90 career minor league home runs. Unfortunately, he’s been unable to translate that into Major League production, hitting just .232/.335/.404 in two short stints with the Brewers in 2013 and 2014.
The good news for Gindl is that the Blue Jays outfield depth that plagued the roster for much of the winter also translates down into the system as well. He’ll likely join Ezequiel Carrera, who inked a minor league pact earlier this month, in Buffalo and provide the Blue Jays with some options should an injury or two arise.
The real face value signing of the group is Jake Fox. At 32-years-old, Fox has bounced around the minors, with the Blue Jays being the 6th organization of his career. This signing comes off as a Dan Johnson type deal, giving the Blue Jays a veteran masher to hold down first base for the Bisons next season, putting good use to a bat that own a .293/.361/.534 slash-line at the minor league level over the course of his career. But since he hasn’t appeared at the Major League level since 2011, and there is truly no spot for him on the Blue Jays roster, it is doubtful that he’ll see much time in Toronto in 2015.
All and all, this is sort of a mixed bag group, with Lopez having a chance to be the gem of the litter and Gindl possibly seeing some possibile playing time at some point this season.