Blue Jays Notebook: Alan Carter signs minor-league deal, Brian Serven claimed off waivers from Cubs, Brandon Belt wants to continue his career and more

Photo credit:Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Thomas Hall
1 month ago
If a slow-paced off-season weren’t enough, Toronto Blue Jays fans are now enduring extreme winter conditions brought on by a recent polar vortex that’s overtaken all of Canada, likely causing most to count the days until spring training arrives next month.
It’s 37, for those counting at home.
Luckily, a pair of Blue Jays transactions came down the pipeline Tuesday, which should help keep fans warm and cozy while battling these harsh temperatures.

Blue Jays sign RHP Alan Zhang Carter to MiLB contract

In need of additional pitching depth, the Blue Jays signed right-handed pitcher Alan Zhang Carter to a minor-league contract for the 2024 season, per USA Today’s Bob Nightengale. It is unknown if his deal includes an invitation to spring training.
The 26-year-old relief pitcher, an undrafted product who later signed with the Los Angeles Angels, fanned 38 of his 132 batters faced across two levels (Single-A, Double-A) over 28.2 innings in 2023, earning a dazzling 28.8 percent strikeout rate. He also pitched for Team China during last March’s World Baseball Classic.
Carter, who struggled with his command, posted a 13.6 per cent walk rate in the Angels’ system a season ago, pitching to a 2-2 record and a 4.40 ERA while registering a pair of saves.
The former undrafted free agent re-established his craft at Tread Athletics in North Carolina before signing with Los Angeles. He has continued to train there to improve his development this off-season.
There’s plenty to like about the 6-foot-3 hurler’s arsenal, which includes a mid-90s fastball, a mid-80s splitter and a new high-80s slider that he debuted earlier this winter.
After signing with the Blue Jays, Carter will likely open next season at either Double-A New Hampshire or Triple-A Buffalo.

Additional catching depth on the way, with Brian Serven claimed off waivers from Cubs

Serven is joining his third franchise of 2024 after being claimed off waivers from the Chicago Cubs by the Blue Jays on Tuesday. He joined the Cubs via waivers from the Colorado Rockies on Jan. 5 before returning to the waiver wire last week.
The 28-year-old backstop, a fifth-round selection by Colorado in 2016, comes with 73 games of big-league experience and two minor-league options.
Last season, Serven earned 23 plate appearances across 11 games with the Rockies, going 3-for-23 (.130 AVG) with one double and an RBI while striking out 10 times. He logged 64.0 innings behind the plate, committing two errors in that span.
The veteran righty should provide an extra layer of catching depth behind Alejandro Kirk and Danny Jansen after Tyler Heineman was claimed off waivers by the New York Mets earlier this off-season.

Brandon Belt not ready to retire?

In addition to reporting that the Blue Jays are “optimistic” about signing free agent Yariel RodríguezThe Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal noted Brandon Belt has told teams he plans to continue his professional career in 2024.
Belt has played 13 MLB seasons in his illustrious career, one of which he spent with Toronto, thriving to a .254/.369/.490 slash line with 19 home runs, 43 RBIs and a 138 wRC+ in 103 games last season, worth 2.3 fWAR. Separately, he won two World Series titles with the San Francisco Giants in 2012 and ’14.
While a potential Blue Jays reunion, in theory, is possible, it appears unlikely due to the club’s widespread interest in the higher tier of free-agent DH types.

Giants possible trade suitor for Santiago Espinal?

Don’t be surprised if Espinal is no longer a Blue Jay when spring training rolls around.
Toronto has increased its trade discussions surrounding the 29-year-old infielder since the signing of utility player Isiah Kiner-Falefa, multiple sources with knowledge of the front office’s thinking have said. And one of those potential suitors could be the Giants.
As FanSided’s Jeff Young outlined on X, formerly Twitter, on Monday, San Francisco seeks a cost-effective middle infielder this off-season, making them a viable trade destination for Espinal.
Espinal, with two minor-league options and three seasons of club control remaining, would act as a bit of a stopgap at shortstop for Marco Luciano and Casey Schmitt – two of the Giants’ top young infielders – following the departure of free agent Brandon Crawford.
The right-handed infielder’s on-field value isn’t what it once was, as he struggled mightily in the field and at the plate with the Blue Jays in 2023, failing to be worth more than 0.1 fWAR over 93 games. But his inexpensive $2.725 million salary for next season and 2022 All-Star performance could make him a worthwhile addition out West.
For Toronto, trading Espinal would, at the very least, open a spot on the 40-man roster – which is currently full following the Serven waiver claim – and could potentially net one of San Francisco’s platoon right-handed hitters in return, like outfielder Austin Slater, perhaps.


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