Fans of the Toronto Blue Jays may be upset over recent MiLB signings. But, the situation of the AAA Buffalo Bisons demands that these deals be made.
Yesterday, the Blue Jays signed two players to minor league deals. First, Wade LeBlanc and then Brad Penny signed with invites to Spring Training. Head long into a winter of disappointment over the lack of big signings, it would be difficult for Blue Jays fans to see these two as anything but negative. When you hope and dream for David Price and get J.A. Happ and then a string of minor league deals, bitterness can creep in. It is easy to look at these deals through that lens and scream “dumpster diving!”. But, these moves are very much necessary when you look at the context of the AAA Buffalo Bisons roster.
Toronto Blue Jays
Most minor league deals end up with the player coming into camp, showing what he’s got and then reporting to AAA. Now, Penny has an opt out in his deal that allows him to depart if he doesn’t like how Spring Training ends up. We’ve similar deals like this, notably with Randy Wolf, who could opt out last season in the summer. If the player stays with the club, he’ll likely report to Buffalo. He’ll likely be joined by a few more MiLB deal guys. They’re badly needed.
Right now, the Bisons roster consists of…are you ready?…THREE pitchers! THREE! That’s all. To fill out a rotation and a bullpen is going to take more, obviously. But, right now, they have LHP Scott Diamond, LHP Chad Girodo and RHP Bobby Korecky and that’s it.
Korecky ( a reliever) has seen time with the big league club with minimal success. In 2015, he threw 48.1 innings for the Bisons with a 3.72 ERA. Girodo (another reliever) got off to a hot start in 2015 with Dunedin and jumped all the way up to AAA where he was met with a 6.75 in 4 games. He might even be starting the year lower than AAA depending on what the organization sees in the spring. Diamond went 11-6 in AAA Durham last season. He will certainly be inserted into the Bisons rotation in 2016. While he has an outside chance of seeing time with the big league club, we should consider him the de facto ace of the Bisons staff. Well, right now, he’s the only starter.
That is where guys like LeBlanc come in. He’ll likely slide into the #2 role in Buffalo. If Penny decides that he is worth more than a minor league job, then he’ll likely opt out and look for something better elsewhere. Or, he could look at the Blue Jays as a place where they are thin on pitching depth and see himself getting a chance to possibly crack the big league roster. If that is the case and he stays, the Bisons will have 3 starters.
So, during the following months, we should expect several more of these minor league deals. The front office has a job to do, not just at the big league level, but throughout the organization. That includes filling a quite bare pitching staff in Buffalo. Rather than looking at these deals as scraping the bottom of the barrel to find talent that is going to help the Blue Jays, maybe we should take a step back. If it is tough being a fan of the Blue Jays watching players sign elsewhere, it could be worse. You could be a Bisons fan and currently have no idea if you’ll have enough pitchers to even field a team.