Blue Jays Moves: Daric Barton re-assigned to minor league camp, Ramon Santiago released


The Toronto Blue Jays continued their purge of the spring training roster ahead of their final week of Spring Training games, reassigning first baseman Daric Barton to minor league camp and formerly releasing infielder Ramon Santiago. The club announced the moves Monday afternoon via Twitter.

Barton, who was signed by the Blue Jays as a minor league free agent on December 16th, was originally picked up as a depth piece. However, John Gibbons turned heads a bit this spring when he announced that the former Oakland Athletic was going to compete with Justin Smoak for the first base job in camp. While it was a nice show of face for Barton, he was never truly in the competition at all after a slow start to the spring, and then watching Smoak get the majority of the at-bats down the stretch, ultimately losing the job even though Smoak struggled to a .186/.314.419 slash line this spring.

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The 29-year-old Barton put up a very Daric Barton-ish line of .250/.341/.389 through 41 spring plate appearances, but will now head to Buffalo where there is a very full first base situation going on with Matt Hague, Jake Fox, Andy Wilkins, and to a lesser degree Chris Colabello all in the mix.

For Ramon Santiago, it is somewhat of a bitter sweet ending to a spring that was looking very promising at one point. Santiago, also in on a minor league deal, was hitting a solid .417/.462/.500 through his first 14 plate appearances, but suffered a broken collarbone on March 15th and will miss the next two months of action. As an Article XX(b) free agent, the Blue Jays would have been forced to pay Santiago a $100,000 retention bonus of they wished to keep him on the minor league roster, regardless of is he was on the disabled list. That price tag made him an easy cut with the deadline looming, but the Blue Jays could still opt to re-sign him to a minor league deal after Opening Day.

The moves today mean that Munenori Kawasaki, Smoak, and Dayan Viciedo are the only three players left in camp on minor league deals competing for jobs, with Kawasaki and Johan Santana being the only two XX(b) free agents likely to get a retention bonus. I would still be shocked if Viciedo breaks camp with the team, especially if first base is in the mix for him. He could be a valuable depth piece, but I’d hate to rely upon him right out of the gate.

Next: Why are the Blue Jays looking at Navarro at first base this late in camp?

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