The Blue Jays have signed veteran pitcher Jeff Francis to a minor league deal, Brendan Kennedy of the Toronto Star reports. The deal includes an invitation to spring training.
Francis, who turns 34 in January, was well-traveled in 2014, spending time with the Reds, Athletics, and Yankees, though he only accrued 20 innings in the majors. He finished with an aggregate 5.85 ERA with a 15/3 K/BB ratio. At Triple-A Louisville with the Reds, Francis compiled a 3.33 ERA with a 45/12 K/BB ratio in 48 2/3 innings.
Francis will serve as starting pitching depth for the Blue Jays, likely starting the season with Triple-A Buffalo.
The Buffalo Blue Jays? Is that a thing? Maybe.
The Toronto Blue Jays are, officially, set to begin their season at Rogers Centre in Toronto on July 29. Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News, however, reports that they are looking at alternatives:
Multiple sources confirm to The Buffalo News that the Bisons’ parent club has finally reached out to Rich Baseball Operations in the last couple of days to examine the possibility of Toronto’s home schedule being played in Buffalo this summer.
This report of a potential for the Buffalo Blue Jays to make their debut comes a couple of days after the strict restrictions on movement for Jays players — they are reportedly required to stick to the Rogers Centre and the connecting hotel or face harsh punishment — met with at least some backlash. The restrictions are inevitable, however, given that Canada is requiring a 14-day quarantine for people traveling into the country. Since the Jays will be playing all road games in the United States, there is little choice for them but to be restricted to their hotel and the ballpark after arriving back in the country after playing games in the states.
As Harrington notes, Buffalo is not an ideal option given the less-than-major-league-level lighting and clubhouse space present in the Triple-A park, so it would not be ideal. Like everyone else these days, however, the Buffalo Blue Jays — er, I’m sorry, the Toronto Blue Jays — have little choice but to scramble.