Major League Baseball free agency officially began yesterday.
While the big names like Trevor Bauer and George Springer and Marcus Stroman and so on will dominate people’s attention, there are also 422 minor-league players who also hit the open market yesterday. The Blue Jays had 18 players become free agents.
Here are they are, courtesy of Baseball America…
Deiferson Barreto, Andrew Burns, Patrick Cantwell, Ryan Dull, James Dykstra, Conor Fisk, Gabriel Guerrero, Mac James, Jesus Lopez, Mike Nittoli, Juan Nunez, Norberto Obeso, Willy Ortiz, Connor Overton, Tom Pannone, Luis Silva, Mitchell Walding, Forrest Wall.
A good chunk of these names are just organizational depth types who were signed to minor-league deals, like Andy Burns, Ryan Dull, and Patrick Cantwell. But there are also a couple of prospects worth noting here.
Thomas Pannone was acquired as part of the Joe Smith to Cleveland trade a few years ago. At one point, he looked like he had a future as a starting pitcher but never panned out. Pannone was designated for assignment in August and cleared waivers. He didn’t pitch for the Blue Jays in 2020 after pitching 116 innings for the club between 2018 and 2019.
And then there’s Forrest Wall, one of the players the Jays got back from Colorado in the Seung-hwan Oh trade. Wall is a former first-round pick and a former top-100 prospect who slashed a .270/.353/.419 line in 2019 between Double- and Triple-A. The Blue Jays had him at their alternate training site in Rochester this summer.
Minor league free agency is a little convoluted this year because there wasn’t a MiLB season but once a player has spent six seasons in the minors (meaning they played in the minors for part of a season) they’re eligible to become a free agent and sign a minor-league deal.
That’s what’s happening in Wall’s case, whereas Pannone became a free agent because he was outrighted from the 40-man roster. Akin to Pannone, Wilmer Font, Brandon Drury, and Caleb Joseph, players who were outrighted off the 40-man, also have already elected free agency.
The Blue Jays could bring any of these players back on minor-league deals. I would expect Wall is signed by the team given their lack of outfield depth but who knows.