Although the Jays’ roster pretty much set for the 2013 season, there remains the need for a right-handed bat to partner with Adam Lind to prevent him from flailing helplessly against left-handed pitchers. Rajai Davis may wind up as Lind’s platoon partner since he’s hit lefties well during his career, but ideally the Jays would like to keep him on the bench to be used as a pinch runner/4th outfielder.
However, considering the Jays’ massive increase in payroll for 2013 after years of running on a constrained budget and ‘if you come, we will build it’ talk from Paul Beeston, Alex Anthopoulos might not have a lot of extra money with which to work. In the wake of the R.A. Dickey trade, AA revealed that the Jays needed to jettison John Buck‘s $6M salary in order to take on more salary. This likely means that as it stands, he will need to find the Jays’ 25th man for close to the league minimum.
|vs LHP as RHB||31||30||12||2||0||2||4||0||0||1||8||.400||.419||.667||1.086||.500|
Internally, the Jays also have a few options in some of their recent minor league free agent signings but the best of those is probably Russ Canzler, the 2011 International League (AAA) MVP. Canzler has hit well against LHP in limited MLB plate appearances over two years. Over the last two seasons in the minors, the 26-year old 1B/OF has hit .299/.370/.496 in AAA in 303 PAs. However, there have already been 3 teams that have given up on Canzler including the Cubs, Rays and Indians. Based on this, the odds that Canzler is a AAAA player that will never quite put it together at the highest level are fairly high.
Though the Jays might not have the payroll space to sign even a modestly-priced free agent at the moment, it could open up if Darren Oliver decides to retire and the Jays decide that they’re satisfied going into the season with Aaron Loup on the MLB roster and Evan Crawford as the next lefty in line. Loup was dominant for the Jays in 2012, but only in a very limited sample size. Considering the lofty expectations of the team, Anthopoulos may be hesitant to go into the season with such little left-handed pitching depth. However, if he believes in Loup going forward, it could free up some cash to go after a quality platoon partner for Adam Lind in free agency.
|vs RHP as RHB||201||185||43||10||0||3||27||1||1||9||23||.232||.269||.335||.604||.244|
|vs LHP as RHB||138||127||33||4||0||6||20||0||2||9||12||.260||.312||.433||.745||.245|
The Jays’ much-maligned former left-fielder that arrived in the Vernon Wells trade and purchased in July, 2011 by the Dodgers could actually fit the Jays’ needs if he’s willing to accept a reduced role on a contender for less money. Rivera would likely be cheaper than any of the other free agent options outlined here because he’s coming off his second straight down season. Despite his struggles overall, he’s actually been rather decent the last two years against left-handed pitchers especially when you consider his BABIP was well below his career average and he played his home games in a pitcher’s park. His OPS was 80 points higher away from the Dodgers’ pitchers’ park and a return to hitter-friendly Rogers Centre would likely treat him a little better than in his first tour of duty there.
With the the return of Carl Crawford from injury, the Dodgers have little use for Rivera and there has been little interest in him from other teams. If he were given a minor league contract with incentives based on MLB plate appearances, the Jays could gain a productive player at a bargain basement price if he bounces back anywhere near his career production.
|vs RHP as RHB||419||392||97||15||0||11||48||0||2||16||79||.247||.279||.370||.649||.278|
|vs LHP as RHB||189||182||56||12||1||7||26||0||0||4||33||.308||.333||.500||.833||.345|
Everybody’s favourite anti-Semitic former 1st overall draft pick, Delmon Young, should also be available on the cheap this offseason. Though fuelled in part by a .345 BABIP against left-handed pitchers, Young managed yet another .800+ OPS in 2012 against LHPs. Considering his off-field issues, horrible outfield defence and an inability to hit right-handed pitchers with any kind of authority, Young is another candidate to fill the Jays’ need for a right-handed bat.
Some people believe that his off-field issues could disrupt a good thing in the clubhouse, the Detroit Tigers seemed to do just fine with him on the team. If Young fails to secure a full-time contract from a good team, he may consider trying to re-establish his value on a one-year deal with a team like the Jays who would use him primarily in favourable situations.
|vs RHP as LHB||191||158||38||5||1||8||24||0||0||24||30||.241||.361||.437||.798||.246|
|vs LHP as LHB||72||61||12||1||1||4||10||0||0||8||17||.197||.306||.443||.748||.195|
|vs RHP as RHB||466||430||113||27||2||24||83||5||2||29||113||.263||.315||.502||.818||.302|
|vs LHP as RHB||149||131||34||6||0||8||25||1||0||15||40||.260||.342||.489||.831||.310|