Blue Jays: Jay Jackson is a name to keep an eye on heading into Spring Training

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On January 11th, the Toronto Blue Jays announced the signing of relief pitcher Jay Jackson to a minor league contract, one that comes with an invite to big league Spring Training as a non-roster invitee.

Just a handful of days stand between us and some live game action and Jackson is a name to keep an eye on, especially with some of the pitchers on the 40-man roster (which he is not) maybe being replaceable if he has a strong showing in Spring.

Per source, the 35-year-old had two other offers in hand before settling on the Blue Jays organization. Jackson felt as if the Jays gave him the best opportunity to not only see some big league innings, but to make a legitimate run to the World Series.

Making a run at a World Series title is a possibility that is certainly in the cards for the Blue Jays. This team has assembled an impressive lineup that is stacked top to bottom with not only lethal offensive talents, but defensive ones as well.

This is without mentioning the pitching staff, which is led by Alek Manoah and Kevin Gausman in the rotation and Jordan Romano and Erik Swanson in the bullpen.

While Jackson has not been promised a spot on the big league roster out of Spring Training, sources familiar with the situation believe that there's a realistic possibility in which he does make the team with a strong showing. The general consensus is that he will report to Triple-A and be one of the first to get a call to The Show if he is performing well or if an injury strikes on the major league roster.

With Jackson, the talent is absolutely there. He has 59 appearances and a career 104 ERA+ in the big leagues, striking out 80 batters in just 57+ innings over the years. Something else he brings to the table that cannot be overstated, is his experience.

Jackson's first professional games came all the way back in 2008 as a member of the Cubs organization, the one that selected him in the ninth round of that year's MLB Draft. Since then, he has spent time in the Marlins, Brewers, Pirates, Padres, Reds, Giants and Braves organizations. He has annually been a hot commodity in the minor league free agent market thanks to his reputation as an incredible teammate and a student of the game.

Outside of his years in the United States, he was also a member of the Hiroshima Carp of the JPCL (Japan Central League) from 2016 to 2018 and later the Chiba Lotte Marines in 2020. In that time, he emerged as one of the most dominant relievers in the league, appearing in a combined 182 games, going 10-8 with a 2.16 ERA in 183 innings.

On the mound, Jackson relies primarily on a mid-80s slider that he pairs with a mid-90s fastball that comfortably sits in the 92-95mph range but has reached up to 96-98mph over the course of his professional career. His sharp breaking ball and high-octane fastball would be the perfect fit in a sixth or seventh inning role on the big league squad in Toronto.

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