By: Jay Blue
Blue Jays From Away
With the Toronto Blue Jays' major-league roster mostly set, the Jays have been looking recently to augment their minor-league depth and load up the Buffalo Bisons with players. While I expect the Blue Jays to have more home-grown talent in Buffalo this year with players like Rowdy Tellez and Jon Berti moving up through the system, the Blue Jays are also signing players with big league experience to fill the Triple-A roster.
On Friday, John Heyman reported that the Blue Jays would signed former National League Rookie of the Year, Jose Tabata, to a minor-league contract with an invite to spring training. While not formally announced by the club yet, this is yet another attempt for Tabata to revive his big-league career and another "no downside" signing by the Jays.
Tabata was signed as an international free agent by the New York Yankees in 2004 and had worked his way up to being the Yankee's #2 or #3 prospect between 2005 and 2007 before being traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2008. Tabata spent two more years in the minors before playing 102 games with Pittsburgh in 2010 and hitting .299/.346/.400 with 21 doubles, four triples and four home runs, winning the NL Rookie of the Year. He hit .266/.349/.362 the following year and signed a big contract extension.
Following the extension, however, Tabata fell off the table, hitting .243/.315/.348 in 2012 but had a comeback the following year, hitting .282/.342/.429 with a career-high six home runs and five triples. Tabata hit just .282/.314/.333 in 2014 and, in a part time role, .289/.341/.289 in 41 plate appearances in 2015 before getting traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers. He played mostly in the minors that year with a .708 OPS in 72 games with Triple-A Indianapolis and Triple-A Oklahoma City.
Last season, Tabata played 30 games with Oklahoma City, hitting .244/.340/.333 before being released by the Dodgers to play in the Mexican League where he hit .320/.439/.410 in 30 games.
Tabata, 28, will be a useful player in Buffalo as a player with proven MLB experience, but with several players ahead of him on the depth chart, he'll only make the Jays in case of injuries or extreme failure to produce at the major-league level.