The Blue Jays add infield depth by reuniting with a familiar face. Likely, this is a move to add minor league depth.
The Toronto Blue Jays have made a move to bolster their infield depth. They are bringing back Maicer Izturis on a minor league deal with an invite to MLB Spring Training.
The Toronto #BlueJays have signed INF Maicer Izturis to a minor league contract with an invite to Major League spring training.
— Sportsnet590 The FAN (@FAN590) January 29, 2016
Maicer Izturis is returning to the Blue Jays on a minor league contract with an invite to spring training
— Arden Zwelling (@ArdenZwelling) January 29, 2016
This is a move that makes total sense for the Blue Jays. In Episode 56 of the Jays Nest Podcast, I chose Izturis as a potential depth option because of his versatility and the potential for him to still have something left in the tank.
Of course, Blue Jays fans will remember that he served with the team from 2013 until he suffered a series of injuries that led to the club parting ways with him. Really, he saw one year with the club before 2014 turned him into the baseball equivalent of a Faberge Egg. In April of 2014, he tripped on the dugout steps and blew his left knee, which would require surgery. Then, when attempting to come back in 2015, he strained his groin, which seemed innocent enough, but took an odd amount of time to heal. When it had, he dove and received a tear in his shoulder for his efforts.
Here we are looking ahead to the 2016 season and Izturis is making an attempt at another comeback. This time, his minor league deal means that there will be nothing lost if things don’t work out. Essentially, it is a shot in the dark. He’d started 2014 quite well and looked promising, but during his time a Blue Jay he never really showed that he could grab an everyday role. Instead, he became a guy who could be plugged in to fill holes now and then with a passable glove and bat. Seeing 107 games in 2013 was likely not part of the master plan. Even if it was, those days are long gone.
Instead, Izturis will be looked upon as a replacement for Munenori Kawasaki. That is not to say that he won’t see time at the big league level, but he’s near the back of a line for infield playing time that includes Troy Tulowitzki, Josh Donaldson, Ryan Goins, Darwin Barney and Devon Travis. So, if he sees regular playing time in Toronto either something has gone very wrong, or he has returned stronger than ever.
Izturis had his best seasons in 2006 and 2011 where he hit .293 and .267 respectively. Blue Jays fans will remember a guy who hit .236/.288/.310 and was worth -2.2 WAR. That may not sound like much, but what the best part of his game was his ability to handle an at bat. His relatively low K rate (10.6% career) and walk rate (8% career) show a player who handles the bat and makes contact. Again, it is kind of like Kawasaki in that he can put the bat on the ball.
We probably should not expect this move to shake the foundations of Rogers Centre. But, we can look at it as a chance for a former Blue Jay to come back and salvage a career that looked to be ending unfairly. The Buffalo Bisons roster is in need of some middle infield help anyway. Perhaps that is the only need this deal will end up helping. Hopefully, Izturis will be able to perform well enough that the club has a tough decision to make. If he doesn’t…well, there’s no such thing as a bad minor league deal.
*Featured Image Credit: Keith Allison UNDER CC BY-SA 2.0