The Blue Jays signed 5 of their six remaining arbitration-eligible players yesterday in what is becomming an annual January tradition.
Scott Downs, who had a great season last year, was the largest beneficiary, earning a $10 million/3 year deal that will buy out his last remaining arbitration year and two years of free agency. Downs struck out 57 in 58 innings, walked 24, and generally stymied lefties in exactly one out of every two Jays' games this past season.
The only hitch here is that Downs was rated as a Type A by Elias this year and if he retained type A status, could have netted some nice draft picks. In addition, with Tallet, Chacin, Davis Romero, and David Purcey in the system, there's no shortage of other Jays lefties who could be ready to step up to an expanded role. I'm torn because you never know whether a lousy team is going to pony up and then instead of getting a 1st round pick and a sandwich pick, you get a sandwich pick and second round pick (still good but not as much of a coup). And of course, Chacin and Romero are returning from shoulder surgery so are far from sure things, Tallet already had a significant role with the team last season, and Purcey is still seen by the Jays as a starter. The fact is that this deal appears reasonable, and Downs is a good guy to have around. His combination of the strikeout-getting curve and the groundball-inducing fastball is a very nice 1-2, and the fact that he throws with the left hand is just an added bonus. He can function in a variety of roles and could probably crack the starting rotation on some teams. Downs held lefties to a .548 OPS and righties to a .639 OPS in about equal numbers of plate appearances, so he's more than your garden variety LOOGY. And of course if the Jays want to, Downs should have some trade value.
Marco Scutaro also signed a multiyear deal, although his was only 2 years/$2.65 million and a little strange in that he essentially gives the Jays a free year, as he was due about $2 million in arbitration. Frasor, Tallet, and Chacin all signed 1-year deals.
The only remaining piece is Alexis Rios, who the Jays have been talking to about a long-term deal. We'll see if the two sides are able to reach agreement.