As the Jays gear up for a visit to Olympic Stadium, some new names have made appearances in spring ball games. Elsewhere in the league, veterans signed to MiLB deals are requesting releases from their clubs, bringing a new influx of names to the suddenly empty free agent pool.
The Final(ly) Boss
After signing with the Blue Jays in February, veteran righty Seung-hwan Oh has at long last obtained a work visa, allowing him to officially play for the team. Oh was actually in Toronto earlier this week to finalize his visa and returned to Florida yesterday evening. He pitched in this afternoon’s spring training contest against the Philadelphia Phillies in Dunedin.
Throwing one inning, Oh, nicknamed the “Final Boss”, retired the side in order on just five pitches, including a strikeout. He pitched in the 5th inning with the Jays up 2-0. Even though his spring season got off to a slower start than anticipated, he is still expected to be with the team on Opening Day. He will earn $2 million this season.
Travis Happy and Healthy
Following a confusing and nerve-racking spring, Devon Travis appeared in today’s game, making this the first time this spring he’s appeared in back-to-back contests. In three at-bats during yesterday’s shortened game, he lined two singles to the outfield before being replaced. Today, he picked up his fifth RBI of the spring, smashing a double to right.
"“Just want to be there from Day 1 and game 162 and everything after that. There’s going to be a little bit of a schedule, but excited to get going and stay in there.”"
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As for his health, Travis says he’s optimistic, telling reporters “[he] just want[s] to be there from Day 1 and game 162 and everything after that. There’s going to be a little bit of a schedule, but [he’s] excited to get going and stay in there.” Despite his optimism, Travis needs to walk the walk after talking the talk. The Blue Jays have already lost Troy Tulowitzki to an injury this spring, and are already dipping into their depth infielders for Opening Day starters.
Veterans Galore Hit the Open Market
In a busy day for teams all across the league, numerous veterans have been released following a plethora of roster moves earlier this week. Noteworthy names that are now free agents are Fernando Abad, Melvin Upton Jr. (released yesterday), Antonio Bastardo and Daniel Nava. Catcher Curt Casali also briefly hit the open market following his release from the Rangers, but was scooped up by the Rays and signed to a MiLB deal.
Among the names listed above, Abad is perhaps the most intriguing. In 43.2 innings last year for the Red Sox, he struck out 37 pitching to a 3.30 ERA. In mid-February, the southpaw signed a minor league deal with Philadelphia that would give him $2.5 million worth of incentives should he make the team. The Phillies have evidently decided not to add him to their 25-man roster.
Given the recent demand by fans for a second lefty in the pen, the Jays should at least take a look at Abad. He has experience in the AL East and brings an ever-valuable veteran presence to any bullpen. He could be a cheap bullpen option and is worth his weight in puns ten times over.