César Izturis - Jeff Hanisch-US PRESSWIRE
César Izturis is back with the Toronto Blue Jays, joining his half-brother Maicer.
The Blue Jays did not sign César Izturis but his younger half-brother Julio. Much apologies for the error in this article, please see the new article about Julio's signing here.
The Toronto Blue Jays have reportedly re-acquired infielder César Izturis, signing him to a minor league contract today, according to Baseball America's Matt Eddy. He will probably spend most of his time in Buffalo in 2013.
César, 32, is 215 days older than his half-brother Maicer, who signed a 3-year, $10 million Major League contract with the Jays earlier this offseason. When Maicer steps on the field for the first time as a Blue Jay, he and César will become the third fraternal pair to ever be Blue Jays. The first two pairs are obvious: Rob (1993-1994, 1999) and Rich (1997) Butler, and Benji (2006) and Jose (2010-2011) Molina. The last pair is quite a bit more obscure; I'll reveal the brothers' identities at the end of the article (hint, they were both catchers). The Blue Jays have never had two brothers on the roster simultaneously--perhaps that will change in 2013.
César was first signed as a 16-year old international free agent from Venezuela by the Blue Jays scouts Emilio Carrasquel and Mike Russell all the way back in July 1996. He played for the short-season A St. Catherines Stompers (managed by Rocket Wheeler--what a great name) a year later and made it up to the AAA Syracuse SkyChiefs by age 20, skipping AA. All throughout the minors he was rated as a top defensive shortstop by Baseball America, and was one of Toronto's top prospects.
After the Blue Jays DFAed British reliever Lance Painter, Izturis was recalled and he made his Major League debut as a 21-year old shortstop in a start against the Boston Red Sox. He collected his first hit--a single--in his very first at bat against former Blue Jays reclamation project Frank Castillo. In his 16th career game, he fell a homer short of a cycle against the Montreal Expos. Manager Buck Martinez made him his starting second baseman and he played everyday until he was optioned to AAA on August 1 when Homer Bush came back from his injury. He was called up again in September, starting the occasional game.
That off season, freshly-hired general manager J.P. Ricciardi traded Izturis, along with Paul Quantrill, to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Luke Prokopec and minor league pitcher Chad Ricketts. That was probably near the top of Ricciardi's list of worst trades--you can take a look at Prokopec's stats yourself if you don't believe me.
César became the Dodgers' staring shortstop and became known for being a good glove, but light-hitting shortstop. His career year came in 2004 when he hit .288/.330/.381, stealing 25 bases, and his improved offense brought him the National League Gold Glove award. He signed a 3-year $9.9 million contract (the Izturis brothers' favourite type of contract it seems) after that year and played well enough in 2005 to be named to the NL All-Star team.
Unfortunately, due to some arthritis issues and the most forgiving disease of all--regression, he never repeated that 2004 season. In 2006, he was traded to the Cubs for Greg Maddux (not a bad thing to tell your grandkids) then subsequently played for the Pirates, Cardinals, Orioles, Brewers, and the Nationals. His career line is .255/.294/.323, nothing to write home about, but his career K/PA sits at a pretty 9.2%, which is excellent. César is only 32, so as long as his defense stays good and he stays healthy, he will get a chance to play in the Major Leagues again.
By the way, the other pair of brothers were Jason (2006-2007) and Kyle (2009) Phillips.
Other Minor League Signings
I was busy during the afternoon and just slapped on a press release from the Blue Jays who confirmed that they have signed OF Ricardo Nanita, 2B Jim Negrych, RHP Neil Wagner, and LHP Alex Hinshaw to minor league contracts with invitation to big league Spring Training. It turns out that I really have nothing to write about them because I have absolutely no insight to Negrych, Wagner, and Hinshaw. I just want to point out how much I loved Las Vegas 51s' broadcaster Russ Langer saying "nan-NIT-a". Yea I know, amazing analysis.