Blue Jays All-Time Lists

Blue Jays: Top 10 International Free Agents

SEATTLE - AUGUST 13: Carlos Delgado #35 of the Toronto Blue Jays bats against the Seattle Mariners during the game on August 13, 2003 at Safeco Field in Seattle, Washington. The Mariners defeated the Blue Jays 13-6. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
SEATTLE - AUGUST 13: Carlos Delgado #35 of the Toronto Blue Jays bats against the Seattle Mariners during the game on August 13, 2003 at Safeco Field in Seattle, Washington. The Mariners defeated the Blue Jays 13-6. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images) /
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ST PETERSBURG, FLORIDA – MAY 29: Lourdes Gurriel Jr. #13 of the Toronto Blue Jays looks on in the first inning during a game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field on May 29, 2019 in St Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
ST PETERSBURG, FLORIDA – MAY 29: Lourdes Gurriel Jr. #13 of the Toronto Blue Jays looks on in the first inning during a game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field on May 29, 2019 in St Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) /

6. Lourdes Gurriel Jr.
While most of the popular international free agents are signed in their teens, the Blue Jays signed Lourdes Gurriel Jr. shortly after his 23rd birthday.  Gurriel had already played six professional seasons in Cuba so he did not need much seasoning in the minor leagues, and after just 115 games he was called up part way through the 2018 season.

After his first stint with Toronto where he played in 63 games, he looked like a future middle infielder on the club as he hit .281 with 11 home runs over 65 games.  However, after he famously had a poor start to the 2019 season that saw him make a couple errors and batted .175 over 13 games with no home runs, he was sent back to the minors for a month where he developed as an outfielder.  When he returned, despite a long-term injury he still batted .292 for the remainder of the season with 20 home runs in just 71 games.

All things look like Gurriel Jr. will be the long term left fielder that can bat near the top of the order. Through his first 149 games, Gurriel Jr has 31 home runs 85 RBI and a .279 batting average.  He still has three years left on his contract that averages around $5 million per season.

24 Feb 1999: Pitcher Kelvim Escobar #47 of the Toronto Blue Jays poses for a studio portrait on Photo Day during Spring Training at Grant Field in Dunedin, Florida. Mandatory Credit: Scott Halleran /Allsport
24 Feb 1999: Pitcher Kelvim Escobar #47 of the Toronto Blue Jays poses for a studio portrait on Photo Day during Spring Training at Grant Field in Dunedin, Florida. Mandatory Credit: Scott Halleran /Allsport /

5. Kelvim Escobar
The relief pitcher, turned starting pitcher, turned closer, turned back to starting pitcher, Kelvim Escobar was signed as a 16-year old out of Venezuela in 1992.  Escobar would play seven years in the Toronto organization and bounced back and forth between the bullpen and starting rotation.  He first came up midway through the 1997 season where he led the team with 14 saves to a 2.90 ERA.  He would split the next season in both the rotation starting 10 games as well as coming out of the bullpen for seven games.

Escobar would spend the majority of his next two seasons as a starter winning 14 and 10 games, but would come out of the bullpen the year after.  In 2002, Escobar pitched the entire season as the closer as he picked up 38 saves.  In 2003, in his last season Escobar would start 26 games picking up 13 wins which included a complete game shutout, but at the same time he also picked up four saves.

Escobar would finish his seven year career with the Blue Jays with 58 wins and 58 saves.  He started 101 games and came out of the bullpen for 200.  After the 2003 season, Escobar left to the Anaheim Angels in free agency.  Escobar currently sits 10th in team wins and seventh in shutouts.

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