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Blue Jays sign Craig Breslow to minor league deal

The deal includes an invitation to spring training.

Minnesota Twins v Cleveland Indians
Craig Breslow #40 of the Cleveland Indians pitches against the Minnesota Twins on September 26, 2017 at Progressive Field in Cleveland, Ohio. The Twins defeated the Indians 8-6.
Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images

The Toronto Blue Jays signed left-handed pitcher Craig Breslow to a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training on Monday afternoon, Robert Murray of FanRag Sports reported.

The deal, according to Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet, is worth $1.25 million if Breslow makes the major league team. Breslow can opt-out of the contract at the conclusion of spring training.

Breslow’s signing marks the Blue Jays’ third minor league pitching acquisition in the past five days. On Thursday, Toronto signed the right-handed Jake Petricka, and on Friday, the Blue Jays agreed to a deal with Canadian John Axford. Toronto also signed Al Alburquerque to a minor league deal earlier this offseason.

While nothing has yet to come of the news, Toronto is reportedly interest in pitcher Andrew Cashner and other veteran starters, per Jon Morosi. After improving both the infield and outfield with trades earlier this offseason, Toronto’s focus with just days until pitchers and catchers report seems to be on the starting rotation, although the signing of Breslow does not reflect that.

Breslow, a reliever, spent most of his 37 games in the majors in 2017 with the Minnesota Twins. Over 35.1 total innings in 2017, Breslow posted an ERA of 5.09 and FIP of 4.69 with a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 1.64.

In 2017, right-handed batters hit .333 off of Breslow, while left-handed batters hit .214. It was a decrease from his 2016 numbers, which had lefties hitting .400 off of the 37-year-old.

(It was a small sample size; only 14 major league innings. Still, Breslow’s 2015 numbers against lefties — including a .351 on-base percentage — reflect a larger trend of his recent lack of effectiveness against left-handers.)

Breslow last spent considerable time in the majors in 2015, when he pitched 65 innings out of the bullpen for the Boston Red Sox. He had a 4.50 ERA, but a FIP of 3.93.

The reliever won a World Series with the Red Sox in 2013, one of the best seasons of his career.

It’s seems unlikely that Breslow will make the major league team out of spring training, but his signing provides depth to a system that can never be too full.

Breslow majored in molecular biophysics and biochemistry at Yale University before being drafted.

Breslow has earned several accolades for his brains. He was called “the smartest man in baseball” by the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and one article in the Wall Street Journal jokingly states that Breslow “is the smartest man in baseball, if not the entire world.”

“There’s no end to the teasing I’ve taken,” Breslow told The Jewish News of Northern California. “But considering some of the monikers professional athletes are earning these days, I’ll take that one.”

Breslow is a three-time Roberto Clemente Award nominee (2010, 2013 and 2014).