By Andrew Hendriks
The Toronto Blue Jays dipped back into the free agent market on Thursday, signing a pair of interesting depth pieces to minor league contracts that come with invites to big league camp this spring.
In a move aimed directly at addressing a major area of concern with regards to the clubs relief corps heading into the 2015 season, the Jays inked right handed reliever, Ronald Belisario to an incentive based deal that could see the 32 year-old Venezuela native earn $1.7M if he should crack the clubs 25-man roster when camp breaks this April.
Belisario, a veteran of 335 contests over the past five seasons, joins Toronto having posted a career ERA of 3.75 in addition to 12 saves (eight of which came last year with the Chicago White Sox) in 331 1/3 innings of work since breaking in with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2009.
Despite having been rocked to the tune of a 5.56 ERA in 62 appearances with the south siders in 2014, the once dominant set up man could prove to be a valuable addition to the Jays pen if he’s able to produce numbers similar to the ones that made him a can’t miss rookie after his impressive debut with Los Angeles five seasons ago.
With a ground ball rate that hovers around the 60% mark, infield defense is a key element to Belasario’s success rate, and one that may have hindered his over all numbers while pitching for the White Sox in 2014. As a team, the Sox committed 107 errors on the season en route to posting a .982 fielding percentage (26th in the Majors) last season.
For those wondering, Toronto ranked seventh with a .985 marker.
Along with Belisario, veteran middle infielder, Ramon Santiago also signed, Thursday, and his addition gives the Jays yet another viable option to throw into the mix for this spring’s second base competition.
Santiago, 35, brings 13 years of service time to the organization and will join Ryan Goins, Devon Travis, Maicer Izturis, Munenori Kawasaki and an option-less Steve Tolleson on the list of infielders who will be battling it out for a spot on the 25-man roster this April.
In 920 major-league games, the long time Detroit Tiger has slashed .243/.314/.330 in 2794 plate appearances while providing outstanding defense at both the shortstop and third base positions throughout his career.
Similar to Belisario, Santiago’s deal for one-year, $1.1M is contingent on him making the trip north with the Jays this April.