Blue Jays bring back Andy Dirks on a minor league contract
Does everyone remember when the Toronto Blue Jays claimed outfielder Andy Dirks off waivers from the Detroit Tigers on October 31st and then promptly decided to non-tender him on December 2nd despite not having a clear-cut outfield in place? Well that move has seemingly worked out in the Blue Jays favor, with Toronto coming to terms on a minor league deal with Andy Dirks on Thursday according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports.
This move has the potential to be a win for the Blue Jays, who by signing Andy Dirks to a minor league deal, which includes an invitation to Spring Training, avoided going to arbitration with Dirks, who was eligible for the first time this winter. It also gives the Blue Jays roster flexibility, as the Blue Jays save a 40-man roster sport and can now send Dirks to Buffalo to start the season, ensuring that his back is fully healed and call him up when the situation truly dictates a need.
As currently constructed, the Blue Jays outfield consists of Michael Saunders, Dalton Pompey, and Jose Bautista, with Kevin Pillar slated to be the fourth outfielder. If either Pompey or Pillar struggle to start the season, and Dirks shows he is ready to step in, the team can pluck him from Buffalo and stash him in left field and slide Saunders into center, as Rosenthal also notes.
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Prior to being claimed by the Blue Jays in October, Andy Dirks spent his entire career in the Detroit Tigers system. He played in a career-high 131 games in 2013 while hitting .256/.323/.363 with a wRC+ of 89, 9 home runs, and 37 RBI. Additionally, he posted a stunning UZR/150 of 13.1 and a DRS of 6 during that campaign, showing that he can handle the defensive side of things in left field.
Unfortunately, he missed all of the 2014 season, first with back issues and then with hamstring tightness that popped up during his rehab assignments. However, he’s expected to be fully healthy in 2015.
While the Blue Jays outfield is less of a question mark than it was when the Blue Jays non-tendered him earlier this winter, there is still a possibility that Dirks sees significant time with Toronto this season. He experience playing all over the outfield would provide even more depth at the position, which right now is relegated to Kevin Pillar, Ezequiel Carrera, and that’s it.