Blue Jays talking contract with right-hander Mat Latos

Blue Jays GM Ross Atkins joined Bob McCown and Arash Madani on Prime Time Sports to discuss the Jays' bullpen, outfield, and health of key players.

TORONTO – The Toronto Blue Jays’ search for pitching depth has led them to a veteran right-hander seeking a bounce-back season. According to industry sources, the club is far along in discussions with Mat Latos.

While there’s no guarantee the sides reach a deal, the Blue Jays have been in contact with Latos in recent weeks as they’ve rounded out their pitching staff. The 29-year-old, a veteran of 194 MLB starts, would provide the Blue Jays with additional rotation depth. In theory, he could also pitch out of the bullpen, where his stuff might play up.

If a deal’s completed, it’s believed that Latos would earn approximately $1.5 million at the MLB level.

Latos earned Cy Young votes in his age-22 season, when he posted a 2.92 ERA in 31 starts for the 2010 San Diego Padres. Four more stellar campaigns followed, but he struggled in the two seasons after being traded to the Marlins in December of 2014. Since that deal, he has played for five organizations while posting a 4.93 ERA.

Most recently, Latos spent the 2016 season with the Chicago White Sox and Washington Nationals, pitching to a 4.89 ERA in 70 innings. He started 12 times while also setting a career high with eight relief appearances.

All told, his fastball averaged 90.2 m.p.h. in 2016, down from a career-best 94.2 in 2009.

The Blue Jays’ rotation appears to be set, with Aaron Sanchez, J.A. Happ, Marco Estrada, Marcus Stroman and Francisco Liriano all returning. Still, all teams need starting depth, and the Blue Jays lack compelling alternatives in that area. There’s less certainty in Toronto’s bullpen, where at least two spots appear to be up for grabs behind Roberto Osuna, Jason Grilli, Joe Biagini, J.P. Howell and Joe Smith.