With just a few weeks to go before pitchers and catchers report to spring training, the Blue Jays still have moves to make. These will almost certainly not be any of the franchise altering type, but hopefully ones that add some sort of impact presence to a lineup that definitely needs it.
In addition to these moves, that are hopefully happening soon, the club will also need to supplement its minor league depth. This typically includes the additions of players with major league experience who aren’t expected to fit on a major league roster in April. These types of additions come from either waiver claims or minor league contracts with invitations to spring training.
Last season the Jays added the likes of Paul Fry, Jay Jackson, Casey Lawrence, and Drew Hutchison to the pitching depth, and position players like Ernie Clement, Wynton Bernard, and Nathan Lukes to the fold. All but one of these players reported to Triple-A Buffalo once camp ended, and only two of them made a noticeable impact on the MLB roster at points during the regular season.
Jay Jackson was quietly impressive across 29.2 innings, and Ernie Clement hit .380 over 29 games while playing around the infield. It’s rarely expected that these depth signings will win games for you over the course of the season, but nice surprises like this go a long way over 162 games. Flash forward to now, Jackson remains a free agent and has earned a shot to be in a major league bullpen, while Clement is still with the organization and set to fight for a role in camp.
The Blue Jays have begun picking up players and extending invitations to camp. Paolo Espino has signed a minor league contract and will serve as pitching depth. The club has also signed two catchers in Payton Henry and Max McDowel, in addition to claiming Brian Serven off waivers from the Cubs. The Jays also made good work to resign minor league utility-man Rafael Lantigua, who enjoyed a great season in Buffalo and could see time at a variety of positions for the 2024 Blue Jays.
Free agency is far from over, and teams will continue to make improvements to their club likely into spring training camp. Besides bolstering their MLB lineup, the Blue Jays would do well to supplement their minor league depth at first base, second base, and outfield. Here are four targets who could be forced to sign minor league deals this offseason, and that the Blue Jays could invite to camp with the intention of calling upon them in the event of an injury.