Letters of Intent
By Jay Blue
Five minor leaguers who were in the Blue Jays’ system in 2014 have elected free agency and will try their luck on the free agent market this offseason.
Outfielder Cole Gillespie, shortstop Jonathan Diaz, and pitchers Bobby Korecky, Brad Mills and Raul Valdes have all elected free agency. All had major league service time this year (Korecky, Gillespie, Diaz and Mills with the Blue Jays, and Valdes with the Astros) and were outrighted to the minor leagues. This gives them the choice of electing free agency at the end of the season, and all five have done so.
Gillespie was claimed off waivers from the Seattle Mariners in July when the Blue Jays were desperately seeking a right-handed bat (Nolan Reimold was also picked up at that time). Gillespie had a grand total of three at bats with Toronto before being sent down to Buffalo where he played in 26 games and spent part of the season on the DL. Gillespie torched the competition in Buffalo though, hitting .354/.423/.500 in 104 plate appearances and also hit .362/.456/.741 in 16 games with Seattle’s top farm club in Tacoma. Gillespie should easily find a job somewhere in the high minors, if not as a reserve outfielder in the majors.
Infielder Jonathan Diaz saw the most big league playing time of his career with the Toronto Blue Jays this year, the team that drafted him in the 12th round of the 2006 draft. Despite his offensive limitations (hitting .158/.256/.184 in 45 plate appearances), the defensive wizard provided some solid glove work for the Buffalo Bisons this year.
Reliever Bobby Korecky might be the biggest loss for the Buffalo Bisons, as the 35-year-old righty was utterly dominant in the closer’s role in Triple-A, posting a 1.97 ERA with 60 strikeouts and just 18 walks over 64 innings, notching 22 saves.
Brad Mills was another Blue Jays draftee (fourth round of the 2007 draft) who came back to the organization, this time as a waiver claim from the Oakland A’s. The Jays, who lost Deck McGuire in that move, gave Mills a chance to pitch in Toronto where he was horrible, but he provided some solid innings for both Buffalo and Nashville (Milwaukee’s Triple-A team) this season.
Raul Valdes , 36, was new to the Blue Jays’ organization after being traded for (for cash or a player to be named later) in May. Valdes pitched in eight games for the Houston Astros, posting a 12.27 ERA over just 3 2/3 innings. The Cuban lefty was an innings eater for the Buffalo Bisons, throwing 81 innings and going 5-5 with a 4.00 ERA and 1.33 ERA.
– Follow Jay Blue on Twitter @JaysFromAway