The Toronto Blue Jays have signed catcher Alex Monsalve to a minor-league contract, according to Baseball America.
Signed out of Venezuela in 2008 for $715,00, as Ben Badler reported at the time, Monsalve has spent his entire career in the Cleveland organization.
Monsalve opened the 2016 season in a reserve role with double-A Akron, his first taste of that level, and hit .297 over 18 games. He was then moved back to advanced-A Lynchburg for the remainder of the season, save for a one-game appearance at triple-A in July.
Despite having the necessary size at 6-foot-2, 225 pounds, Monsalve has yet to translate that into much power with just 24 home runs over 2,000+ minor-league plate appearances.
Defensively, Monsalve threw out nine of 26 attempted base-stealers in 2016 (35%) and has a career 25% success rate.
The Cleveland connection is present again in Monsalve. Mark Shapiro was the general manager when Cleveland originally signed him and Ross Atkins was the director of player development as Monsalve came through his prospect years. Just as with T.J. House, the left-handed pitcher Toronto has reportedly signed to a minor-league deal of his own, the familiarity between front office and player can be viewed as beneficial.
Atkins had hinted at the conclusion of the MLB winter meetings in Maryland that a group of minor-league signings could be coming shortly, which these appear to be a part of.
Toronto remains relatively thin when it comes to catching depth in the upper-minors, with recent minor-league signing Mike Ohlman and longtime Blue Jays’ farmhand A.J. Jimenez currently representing the next wave behind Russell Martin. Jorge Saez was coming off a strong season that ended in double-A New Hampshire, but was selected by the New York Yankees in the minor-league portion of the Rule 5 Draft which opens further opportunity for catchers at that level.