Macier Izturis jumps over Johnny Gomes. - Kelley L Cox-US PRESSWIRE
The Blue Jays are reported to be close to signing a middle infielder, and early morning rumours from the general managers' meetings have pointed the arrow in the direction of Maicer Izturis. If he were to sign, he would likely fill in the utility infielder role on the 2013 team.
In a very early morning tweet (at least for us in the Eastern time zone), Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal reported that a rival executive expects that the Toronto Blue Jays will be signing free agent infielder Macier Izturis. This is after Sportsnet's Shi Davidi heard that the Jays were close to signing a free agent second-baseman with Major League experience to help add some desperately needed depth.
Macier Izturis, 32, is the half-brother of former Blue Jay infielder Cesar Izturis and was signed as an amateur free agent by the Cleveland Indians in 1998 at age 18. He toiled in the minor leagues until 2004 when he was traded to the Montreal Expos organization where he played 99 games in Edmonton before making his big league debut with the Expos on August 27 of that year, going 1-for-3 with a walk. He played just 32 games for the franchise during their last year in Canada. Izturis flew out for the first out of the last Major League inning ever played in Stade Olympique, and was the final pinch hitter and second-last player to bat for the Expos.
That offseason Izturis and former Blue Jay outfielder Juan Rivera were traded to the then-Anaheim Angels for right fielder Jose Guillen. Izturis has played 8 seasons with the Angels, becoming their longest-tenured player. Izturis was never n everyday player, although when healthy (generally in odd years) he started around 100 games per season in 2007, 2009, and 2011. His career batting line is .273/.337/.381 in 2913 plate appearances, with 34 HR, 146 2B, 38 K, 25 BB, 91 SB-28 CS. Although the power is absent, his OPS+ and wRC+ of 94 is pretty decent for a backup middle infielder. Mike Aviles, by comparison, has more power, but a lower on-base percentage.
Izturis' best year came in 2009 when he played in 114 games, hitting .300/.359/.434, and was worth 3.5 WAR. He parlayed that career year into a 3-year, $10 million contract with the Angels to avoid arbitration after that season.
On the field, Izturis played 2B, SS, and 3B last year, with the bulk of his time spent at the hot corner. Thinking back on the handful of times I've seen him play, I don't remember him as a spectacular defensive guy, but he wasn't horrible either.
I imagine that the club will treat Izturis much the same way as they had planned to treat Mike Aviles: the plan is for him to contribute off the bench as an utility guy, and start around two games a week. The club is probably targeting to sign or trade for someone better to take over Kelly Johnson at second base, but if all fails, Izturis can do that job.
Of course, we should all keep in mind that none of this came from the Alex Anthopoulos (of course not) or anyone from the Blue Jays, it is just speculation from an executive from a rival club.
You can read more about Maicer Izturis and his many nick names from the fine folks at Halos Heaven.
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