The Blue Jays made headlines over the weekend with a couple of signings, with the big news being the five-year deal with Kevin Gausman, while also adding reliever Yimi Garcia. Monday morning, the club also announced they had signed seven players to minor league deals with invites to Spring Training.
The most notable player on the list of signees is relief pitcher David Phelps. Phelps returned to the Blue Jays for the 2021 season after previously being part of the team back in 2019. The veteran right-hander started the season out very well, as he allowed just one run over 12 appearances and posted a 0.87 ERA while striking out 15 batters over 10.1 innings. Unfortunately for him and the team, Phelps would go down with a lat strain in early May and miss the remainder of the season. Phelps has nine years of big league experience with a career 3.90 ERA over 320 appearances. If he can come back healthy, he could be a contributor this season in the Jays bullpen.
The organization will be bringing back Kellin Deglan who they acquired mid-season from the New York Yankees as catching experience in Buffalo. The former first-round pick from Langley, British Columbia will be 30-years old at the start of next season. Deglan is nothing more than some experience for the young catchers coming through the system. He got into 27 games with the Bisons last year where he posted a slash line of .203/.333/.354.
Mallex Smith is an intriguing signing as the organization obtained him from the Cincinnati Reds last August and in 7 games with Buffalo, he went 7 for 23 (.389) with a triple and a pair of home runs, along with three stolen bases. If Smith can get back to his style of play from a couple of seasons ago, he could create an opportunity with the club. He had back-to-back 40 stolen base seasons in 2018 and 2019 with Tampa Bay and Seattle. In 2018, Smith led the league with 10 triples, along with posting a slash line of .296/.367/.406, however after struggling in 2020, he was unable to get into any major league games this past season.
The remaining signings were Nathan Lukes who is a 27-year old minor league outfielder. Lukes has no big league experience but has six seasons of minor league ball split between the Tampa Bay and Cleveland organizations. Lukes played his 2021 season with the Durham Bulls (Tampa Bay) where he posted a slash line of .303/.352/.456.
The Blue Jays have added depth to the organization on Monday morning with seven minor league signings. Each player has an invite to Spring Training
Jose De Leon is a 29-year old right-handed relief pitcher that finished the 2021 season in the Boston Red Sox minor league organization. He started the season with the Cincinnati Reds organization but was released in July after surrendering 17 runs in 18.1 innings.
Casey Lawrence signed his first professional contract with the Toronto Blue Jays as an undrafted free agent back in 2010. If you remember him, Lawrence climbed through the organization until he made four appearances with the Blue Jays in 2017, but after posting an 8.78 ERA and a WHIP of 2.40 over 13.1 innings he was placed on waivers and claimed by Seattle. Lawrence rejoined the organization this past season and tossed 65 innings for the Buffalo Bison’s split between the rotation and bullpen. Lawrence posted a 7-2 record with a 4.85 ERA.
The final signing is soon to be 29-year old relief pitcher Matt Gage. Gage has no big league experience to his credit and just converted to the bullpen this past season. During the 2021 season, Gage split time between AA-AAA in the Arizona Diamondbacks organization. During this offseason, Gage went to the Mexican Pacific Winter League and posted a 0.84 ERA over eight appearances with a pair of saves.
Do you see any of these players getting time on the Blue Jays roster this season?