Toronto Blue Jays announce five minor league contracts including some old friends

Oakland Athletics v Toronto Blue Jays
Oakland Athletics v Toronto Blue Jays / Tom Szczerbowski/GettyImages

Earlier on Friday the Toronto Blue Jays took to Twitter to announce that they have signed five free agents to minor league contracts. Each of them will be receiving an invite to big league Spring Training.

In addition to the previously-announced Julian Fernández and Casey Lawrence deals, the club is bringing aboard veteran catcher Rob Brantly as well as 2015 Opening Day starter Drew Hutchison, who last appeared in a Jays uniform in 2016.

Fernández, 27, gives the Jays a fireballer to add to their organizational depth. He routinely hits high-90s and even gets up to 100mph on his sinker. The control isn't there just yet for him but the Jays are bringing him aboard in hopes of uncovering some of the as-of-yet unrecognized potential.

Here's a video of Fernández casually unloading a 100mph fastball.

Lawrence, 35, is joining the Jays' organization for his fourth separate stint. He has had some brief major league cameos over the years for both the Jays and Mariners but didn't truly impress until last season in Triple-A Buffalo where he 9-5 in 23 starts, posting a 2.79 ERA along the way.

Brantly, 33, gives the Blue Jays some minor league catching depth that was oh-so-desperately needed. After Gabriel Moreno was traded, the Jays were left with nothing in the minors behind the plate.

In parts of eight seasons dating all the way back to 2012, Brantly has seven home runs and 37 runs batted in while posting an OPS+ of 68 at the big league level. There's no power to speak of in his bat but he is an above-average defensive catcher who has also began to incorporate some first base into his toolset.

Fry, 30, is a highly-intriguing left-handed reliever who has at times shown some real promise since his debuting with the Orioles back in 2018. He seemingly came out of nowhere in 2020 to post a 2.45 ERA in 22 appearances, striking out 11.9 batters per nine innings and posting an ERA+ of 192. Since then, his numbers have come way back down to earth and it's now the Jays turn to try and rediscover some of that 2020 magic he had going.

Fry doesn't throw the ball very hard, topping out at about 91-93mph on his fourseam fastball that functions as his secondary pitch. His main pitch that he throws around 50% of the time is a massive, sweeping slider that sits around 84mph and is his out pitch.

That brings us to old friend, the now-32-year-old Hutchison. Hutch at one point looked to be a decent starter in the making for the Jays back in the 2012-2015 seasons. A slew of injuries and the failure to return to form led to his being traded to the Pirates for Francisco Liriano, Reese McGuire and Harold Ramirez.

Since that trade, he had struggled to find any sort of consistency at the game's highest level, bouncing around the league between the Pirates, Rangers and Phillies before finally finding something as a member of the Detroit Tigers over the past two seasons.

In 2021, Hutchison came out of nowhere in a 21-inning cameo for the Tigers and posted a 2.11 ERA and a 204 ERA+. This was enough for the Tigers to bring him back for the 2022 campaign and he responded with 28 appearances (18 starts) for the big league club with some not-so-great results: a 3-9 record with a 4.53 ERA and an ERA+ of just 84.

As nice as it is to have an old friend back in the picture, don't count on Hutch to be anything more than organizational depth for the Blue Jays. He will be providing value to this organization in a different way than as a big league contributor.

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