As Alpheus mentioned in the comments, the Jays signed Victor Zambrano to a minor league contract. Zambrano is coming off major surgery and injuries (torn flexor, ligament replacement, bone chip removal, and tendon repair, but he passed a physical and should be ready to pitch out of the bullpen by May, in the rotation around June/July, if not before.
Zambrano has always had control issues, but on the plus side, he has a career ERA+ comparable to Ted Lilly (not a control specialist or injury-free himself) and, in the past, had excellent "stuff" (particularly good movement on his fastball), so has the potential to be a successful pitcher. At present, he is pitching in Venenzuela to build arm strength, regain velocity, and regain his movement.
JP had some interesting comments in the above, including that he wasn't even aware of Zambrano's status at all (which means that Vic might need a new agent). The deal is a minor league deal and is for $500k this year. The Jays also get an option for 2008 for $4 million. If Zambrano returns to league-average pitching, the option could be a bargain next season. If nothing else, Zambrano adds depth, has plenty of upside (probably more than Okha and Thomson) and has had some success in the AL East.
I can't remember exactly where, but JP mentioned that his intention was to create a free-for-all for the last 3 spots in the rotation. That's right 3, meaning Chacin will have to earn his as well (I'm sure he has the inside track). He has said he intends to have Janssen and McGowan start at AAA, but you never know. For the three spots, the Jays have the following potential candidates (for fun, let's over-optimistically say Zambrano will be ready by May to start, when one really begins to need a 5th starter):
Towers, Thomson, Okha, Janssen, McGowan, Marcum, Taubenheim, Chacin, Zambrano, Downs, Rosario
I can't see Romero getting consideration or League being considered to start, but pick them if you want...
Anyway, my two questions:
- Who would you choose for the club's 3-5 spots if you didn't have the benefit of Spring Training?
- Who do you think will break camp as the 3-5 guys?