After the Blue Jays informed Mat Latos that he would not make the team, he bypassed his opt-out option in his contract and accepted his assignment to AAA Buffalo to begin the season.
Mat Latos making the Blue Jays’ Opening Day roster was always a bit of a long shot, but as they say, “there’s no such thing as a bad minor league signing”. They have given him an honest look in Grapefruit League action, and have made a decision regarding his position with the team to begin the year.
He’s going to begin the season with AAA Buffalo, serving as starting depth in the organization.
There was always the danger that Latos could refuse such an assignment, but there was no real penalty beyond losing him as organizational depth. Now that Latos has informed the club that he’s willing to accept the assignment to Triple A, it makes signing him look all that much better.
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There’s no telling what kind of contribution he might make to the major league club this season, if any, but having an experienced veteran waiting in the wings is never a bad thing. Latos will give the Blue Jays just that, a luxury they hopefully won’t need to employ, but is great to have nonetheless.
The news was first reported by the Toronto Star, where they also indicated that Latos “felt the Blue Jays had more to offer”, than he could seek elsewhere on the free agent market.
The 29 year old knew that barring injury, he wouldn’t be getting consideration for the rotation, with one of the AL’s best five-some’s returning as a strength of the club. There was thought that he might serve as the long man in the bullpen, but the Jays ultimately decided to assign him to Buffalo, and go with some combination of Mike Bolsinger, Aaron Loup and Ryan Tepera for the final two spots in the bullpen. Bolsinger is out of minor league options and appears to be the front runner for the long reliever job.
For Latos, he’ll begin the season in Buffalo and wait for an opportunity. Again, barring injury, that opportunity won’t come in the rotation, with the exception of a possible spot start now and then. The club likely hasn’t written off using him as a reliever either, and will be monitoring his performance in the event that they need reinforcements in the pen.
For what it’s worth, his willingness to work in Triple A is also a reflection of where his career is at these days. At only 29 years old, he’s got time to turn his career around and recapture some of the magic that had him finish 8th in NL Cy Young voting in 2010.
After having bounced around 5 different organizations in the last 2 years, it appears that Latos sees Toronto as his best chance at returning to the MLB. While I’m rooting for him to find a way to contribute at the major league level, I think I speak for everyone when I say I hope it’s not in the rotation.