News and Notes: Blue Jays re-sign infielder Rafael Lantigua, and more
2 months ago
Can this off-season move any slower?
It’s time for another News and Notes, and boy oh boy, did it ever take a while to find some stuff worth talking about.
Blue Jays re-sign Rafael Lantigua:
Here’s some good news for the Blue Jays. While looking at the team’s transaction page, I noted that infielder Rafael Lantigua had been signed to a minor-league contract.
I, like many, was concerned that Lantigua would sign elsewhere after a fantastic season with the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons. The 25-year-old utility player slashed .305/.425/.469 with 12 homers in 578 plate appearances, and had a 17 BB% and an 18.5 K% for a 131 wRC+. Now, the International League is a hitter-friendly league, but Lantigua’s eye at the plate alone makes him an intriguing option for a spot on the 2024 Jays.
Not just that, but when I say “utility player”, I mean he plays all over the place. In 2023, he played 69 innings at second base, 259 innings at third base, 197 innings at shortstop, 311.2 innings in left field, 41 innings in centre field, and 101 innings in right field.
Great job to re-sign Lantigua, and hopefully, the 25-year-old isn’t selected in the Rule 5 draft.
Kenta Maeda signs with the Tigers:
Well, there goes a Free Agency Profile idea. On Sunday evening, Jon Heyman announced that the two parties agreed on a two-year deal.
ESPN’s Jeff Passan later elaborated on the terms of the deal, as Maeda signed a two-year, $24,000,000 contract.
In any other division, the Tigers would be a few more seasons away from looking at a wild card spot. However, they play in the American League Central division and finished second in it with a 78-84 record.
Maeda is a way for the Tigers to bridge the gap before prospects like Jackson Jobe and Ty Madden are ready.
Blue Jays a darkhorse for Ohtani:
Per Jon Morosi, the Blue Jays are serious about pursuing Ohtani as “Toronto presents a unique opportunity for the sport’s foremost international icon.”
This echoes Ken Rosenthal’s report from The Athletic a week and a bit ago. He noted that one rival executive thinks that the Blue Jays are a sleeper for the best player in history.
Last season, Ohtani slashed .304/.412/.654 with 44 home runs in 599 plate appearances, along with a 180 wRC+ and a 6.6 fWAR… with the bat. He also pitched to a 3.14 ERA and a 4 FIP in 132 innings pitched, with a 31.5 K% and a 10.4 BB% before a season-ending injury.
It’s likely that Ohtani won’t pitch in 2024, but his bat alone is worth the hundreds of millions he’ll make on his next contract. If he can return to his 2022 form as a pitcher as well when he had a 2.33 ERA and a 2.40 FIP in 166 innings pitched, the contract is instantly justified.
Yariel Rodríguez private workout:
At the start of November, Francys Romero reported that the Blue Jays were one of the 10 “strongest candidates” to sign Cuban pitcher Yariel Rodríguez.
Well, on Saturday evening. Romero reported that the 26-year-old had a private work out with the Boston Red Sox and the San Diego Padres.
Interestingly, neither of those teams were on his list of the 10 strongest candidates to sign Rodríguez, so I would presume the Jays are still in the running to sign him.
The 26-year-old right-handed pitcher pitched for the Chunichi Dragons in Nippon Professional Baseball. He had a 1.15 ERA in 54.2 innings pitched, along with a 27.5 K% and an 8.3 BB%. He sits in the mid-90s with the fastball and also features a slider and curveball. He may earn a contract in the range of $40,000,000 to $70,000,000, according to Romero.
Yoshinobu Yamamoto in Los Angeles:
Brosssports_official on Instagram noticed that one of the best free agent pitchers was at the Los Angeles Lakers game when they took on the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday, November 22.
The Yakyu Cosmopolitan spread the news on Twitter, before noting in a Quote Tweet that Yamamoto’s agency is based in Los Angeles and it was known that he was in the country for a physical.
Still, the Los Angeles Dodgers are a favourite to sign the 25-year-old, as Fangraphs Jon Becker predicts he’ll sign with them.
Bartolo Colón is still pitching:
The 50-year-old was drafted by the Karachi Monarchs of the Baseball United. Yes, Pakistan has a baseball league, and yes, it is a growing sport in the country. He made his first start on November 24 and finished with a line of 3 IP, 2 ER, 3 H, 3 K, 1 BB on 53 pitches.
Colón hasn’t pitched in the big leagues since 2018, when he posted a 5.78 ERA and a 5.47 FIP in 146.1 innings pitched with the Texas Rangers as a 45-year-old. Despite this, he played 21 seasons in Major League Baseball from 1997 to 2018, posting a career 4.12 ERA and a 4.15 FIP in 3461.2 innings pitched, along with winning the Cy Young award in 2005. Colón briefly retired from baseball in early June 2023, but there’s not rest for the wicked, as he returned less than nearly five months later for Karachi.
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