By Andrew Hendriks
Canadian Baseball Network
With 2017's non-tender deadline now behind us, there are a few new faces up for grabs on the open market this winter.
In all, a group of 20 players found themselves without contracts when the clock struck 8 p.m on Friday.
Used primarily as a means of both managing payroll and trimming rosters in advance of the annual winter meetings, an occasional gem can be plucked from this process. We'll point out David Ortiz's departure from Minnesota (circa 2002) an example.
After addressing their middle infield needs by trading for both Gift Ngope and Aledmys Diaz to help back up starters Troy Tulowitzki and Devon Travis in 2018, there are a few areas that the Blue Jays still need to tweak between now and spring training.
Ideally, the club will look to add some optionable depth for their starting rotation, fill the void left behind in the wake of outfielder Jose Bautista's departure as a free agent and further bolster their already effective bullpen.
Could there have been a few options that opened up following Friday's deadline? We'll take a look below:
LHP Xavier Cedeno
Only two seasons removed from posting a paltry ERA of 2.35 across 66 appearances split between the Washington Nationals and Tampa Bay Rays, left-hander Xavier Cedeno found himself on the chopping block when the Rays opted to cut their 40-man roster down to 37 on Friday.
Injuries played a role in limiting the 31-year-old to just nine big league contests in 2017, but his career OBA of .226 -coupled with 81 strikeouts against only 20 walks- when facing lefties could earn the Peurto Rican hurler a look as a south-pawed specialist should he remain healthy this winter.
RHP Jake Petricka
Victimized by a general lack of control in the strike zone throughout his five-year MLB career, six-foot-five righty Jake Petricka, who was slated to earn somewhere in the neighborhood of $1.1 million in arbitration this spring, was turned loose by the Chicago White Sox.
The former 38th-round draft pick out of Faribault, Minn., has a big arm and can generate some swing and miss, but usually relies on the ground balls produced by using a heavy sinker/slider combination. Like Cedeno, injuries limited Petricka's overall success in 2017. However, the former closer did finish on a high note, allowing only one earned run over his final eight appearances (6 2/3 innings) with eight strikeouts and no walks allowed after making some minor mechanical adjustments in late August.
RHP Jared Hughes
Despite pitching to an ERA of 3.02 across 67 appearances in 2017, right-hander Jared Hughes was the only Milwaukee Brewer on the team's 40-man roster who failed to receive a contract on Friday.
The decision to non-tender the veteran hurler was likely influenced by finances as the California native was tabbed to make around $2.2 million in arbitration this spring.
Although his fastball can touch 95 mph, the seven-year veteran primarily pitches off his sinker and is known to get a high amount of ground balls thanks to above average action. Through 380 major league appearances, Hughes owns an overall ERA of 2.85 with only 25 home runs allowed across 369 innings pitched.
Naturally, non-tenders are only one small piece of the off-season puzzle. There are still plenty of free agents to be signed and trades to be hammered out in the weeks leading up to and during spring training.
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