By: Jay Blue
Blue Jays From Away
The Toronto Blue Jays made another announcement on Thursday, finally announcing the signing of free agent relief pitcher Joe Smith and the designation for assignment of catcher A.J. Jimenez.
Hand in hand with the announcement earlier that the Jays had signed left-handed reliever J.P. Howell and designated Chad Girodo for assignment in order to make room for him on the 40-man roster, the Blue Jays announced the signing of right-handed reliever Joe Smith.
Smith, who was a member of the World Series-winning Chicago Cubs and the Los Angeles Angels last year, had a combined 3.46 ERA and 1.25 WHIP over 52 innings with 40 strikeouts and 18 walks. Smith, like Howell, is also not a hard thrower, averaging 88.3 mph on his fastball in 2016. Smith, 32, is a 10-year veteran with 570 2/3 innings in the major leagues under his belt with a 2.93 ERA and a 20.1% strikeout rate over that span. He’ll receive $3 million guaranteed from Toronto with another $500,000 in performance bonuses.
To make room on the 40-man roster for Smith, the Blue Jays designated 26-year-old catcher A.J. Jimenez for assignment. The Puerto Rican has never played in the majors and has spent parts of four seasons with Buffalo but hasn’t played more than 83 games in a season since 2011 due to a string of injuries that began with Tommy John surgery in 2012.
He’s hit .245/.292/.355 in Triple-A with a very similar .251/.297/.362 slash line in 107 Double-A games. Jimenez was drafted in the ninth round of the 2008 draft and has been on the Jays’ 40-man roster once before. Already sent to Buffalo outright once, if he clears waivers, he may elect free agency if the Blue Jays try to send him outright to the minors again.