The Minneapolis-based reporter Darren Wolfson reported Monday evening that the Blue Jays have inked southpaw T.J. House, most probably to a minor-league contract. We have yet to hear an official announcement of the signing (or a confirmation from someone on the Jays beat).
Update: The Bisons confirmed that T.J. House has signed a minor-league contract with a spring training invite on Wednesday afternoon.
ROSTER MOVE: #BlueJays sign LHP T.J. House to a minor league contract with an invite to Major League Spring Training. #Bisons— Buffalo Bisons (@BuffaloBisons) December 14, 2016
House, 27, leaves the Cleveland organization after spending eight seasons in their system. He was drafted in 2008 out of high school and made his major league debut with Cleveland in 2014 as a starter, putting together some decent numbers (3.35 ERA, 3.69 FIP, 80 K, 22 BB over 102 innings). That House was a very, very fine House.
The lefty suffered with an inflamed throwing shoulder in 2015 that sidelined him for most of the season (and caused him to file a grievance against Cleveland over an optional assignment).
His return to the fold in 2016 was a little rocky, with his strikeout rates decreasing and his walk rates increasing over 33 games and 12 starts with the triple-A Columbus Clippers (he was used exclusively in relief after June 8). House was outrighted off Cleveland’s roster after not earning a September call-up. He exercised his right to elect free agency after the season after declining the outright assignment. House is now out of options, so if he’s added to the 40-man roster, he’d need to pass through waivers in order to get sent back down to the minors.
It is unknown whether the Blue Jays still see House as a potential starter or if his shoulder ailments and struggles last season have exiled him permanently to the bullpen. Historically he has done better against left-handed batters, but he was hit particularly hard by them last season. In either case, he provides the club with some much-needed pitching depth from the left side.
If this contract works out the Jays would be playing with House's money.
Fun fact: T.J. House’s real name is Glenn Anthony House. His aunt started calling him “T.J.” because both he and his father were nicknamed “Tiger Junior”. Will being on the same team as Melvin (f.k.a. “B.J.” / “Bossman Junior”) Upton make him consider asking people to call him Glenn?