UPDATE: Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star reports that the Jays and Janssen have agreed to a two-year, $5.9 million contract with a $4 million option for 2014. The new deal buys out his final year of arbitration and potentially his first two years of free agency.
3:29 PM: Casey Janssen and the Blue Jays are close to signing a two-year deal that would buy out his final season of arbitration eligibility and cover his first year of free agency, according to Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.
No word yet on the money, but Janssen asked for $2.2 million in arbitration while the Blue Jays countered at $1.8 million.
Janssen was briefly demoted to Triple-A in April because he had a minor-league option remaining and there was a bullpen logjam. He also spent a big chunk of the season on the disabled list with a forearm injury, but still logged 56 innings with a 2.26 ERA and 53/14 K/BB ratio. He’s quietly emerged as one of the league’s top setup men, posting a 2.91 ERA in 199 career relief outings.
Davidi notes that Toronto hasn’t gone through with an arbitration hearing since way back in 1997.
Veteran utilityman Reid Brignac is in camp with the Astros on a minor league deal. The 31-year-old is close to being done as a major leaguer as he owns a career .219/.264/.309 triple-slash line across parts of nine seasons. In an effort to prolong his big league career, Brignac is now attempting to become a switch-hitter, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports.
I’m going to try it out this year. It was something that I just thought long and hard about and I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to try and see how it goes.’ I used to switch-hit when I was younger off and on, nothing consistent. I could always handle the bat right-handed. I play golf right-handed, so I do a lot of things that way that feel natural.
I just want to get to the point where I’m trying to stay in games, not get pinch-hit for, not starting games because a lefty is starting. … That could help me stay in the games longer. I’m trying to add a new element. I play multiple positions and now if I can switch hit and be consistent at it, then that can only help me.
As Brignac mentions, he’s also verstile. He’s a shortstop by trade, but has also logged plenty of innings at second base and third base, and has occasionally played corner outfield.
There aren’t any examples — at least that I can think of — where players began switch-hitting late in their careers and actually succeeding in the major leagues. As the saying goes, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But here’s hoping Brignac bucks the trend.
Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons fell off the map a bit last year due to a combination of the Angels’ mediocrity, Simmons’ lack of offense, and a month-plus of missed action due to a torn ligament in his left thumb.
Simmons is still as good and as smart as ever on defense. That was on full display Monday when the Angels hosted the Padres for an afternoon spring exhibition.
With a runner on first base and nobody out in the top of the second inning, Carlos Asuaje grounded a 2-0 J.C. Ramirez fastball to right field. The runner, Hunter Renfroe, advanced to third base. Meanwhile, Asuaje wandered a little too far off the first base bag. Simmons cut off the throw to first base, spun around and fired to Luis Valbuena at first base. Valbuena swiped the tag on Asuaje for the first out of the inning.