The Toronto Blue Jays are coming off their most successful season since 1993, but president Mark Shapiro and new general manager Ross Atkins didn’t bring back the exact same roster as the 2015 club.
The Blue Jays lost a handful of valuable contributors in free agency and traded at least two important roster players in order to boost other areas of the squad.
While Blue Jays fans have mostly focused on the battle for the fifth starter heading into the 2016 season, we figured why not check in on some old friends?
Here’s our spring training edition of the ex-files, where we look at 12 prominent former Blue Jays and how they’ve been fitting in with their new teams.
David Price, Boston Red Sox: After playing a critical role in helping Toronto win their first AL East title in over 20 years, Price landed the biggest free-agent deal of the winter, signing a seven-year, $217-million deal with the rival Boston Red Sox.
The 30-year-old all-star will undoubtedly open the season at the top of the Red Sox rotation so there isn’t too much to be concerned with over his three spring starts. He’s registered a 3.00 ERA with 12 strikeouts, six walks, and three home runs allowed over 12 innings, and issued five walks in a game for the first time since the 2011 season in his most recent start. However, he says he’s identified the root of his control issues and will make his final spring start on Wednesday.
Ben Revere, Washington Nationals: Revere was expected to be the Blue Jays’ leadoff man and left fielder in 2016 before he was traded to the Washington Nationals in exchange for closer Drew Storen. He has had a great spring with Washington, batting .375/.375/.531 with two doubles, one home run, three RBI, a stolen base, four strikeouts, and no walks (not a surprise) in 32 plate appearances. He will play centre field on a regular basis for the Nationals and hit leadoff.
Dioner Navarro, Chicago White Sox: Outside of Price, Navarro might be the biggest absence this season with the Blue Jays as catching depth behind incumbent starter Russell Martin remains a major question mark. The veteran switch-hitting catcher landed a one-year, $4-million deal with the Chicago White Sox, where he’ll re-unite with former Blue Jays teammates Brett Lawrie and Melky Cabrera, and he is expected to platoon with veteran Alex Avila. Like Revere, he has been fantastic at the plate this spring, batting .375/.444/.583 with two doubles, one home run, four RBI, five walks, and three strikeouts in 27 plate appearances. And did you know Navarro has a pet pig named Sassy?!
Mark Lowe, Detroit Tigers: Following a career year, the Detroit Tigers handed Lowe a two-year deal worth $11 million. The veteran righty projects as one of the primary set-up men behind closer Francisco Rodriguez, but his spring stats have been severely lacking. Lowe has recorded a 9.82 ERA with two home runs allowed, 11 strikeouts, and just one walk over 7.1 innings pitched.
Munenori Kawasaki, Chicago Cubs: Losing Kawasaki irked some Blue Jays fans as the veteran infielder was one of the most popular players in franchise history, despite mostly irrelevant production. Kawasaki legitimately has a chance to crack the Cubs’ big-league roster due to Javier Baez’s lingering thumb injury. He is in the mix for a backup infielder job and has actually performed very well at the plate this spring, hitting .395/.489/.553 with six doubles, five RBI, one stolen base, seven walks and four strikeouts in 46 plate appearances.
“He’s done a really nice job,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said of Kawasaki (via ESPN.com). “When he was in Toronto, everyone looks at him as being this fun guy that does crazy things. This guy is a good baseball player. He plays the game well and is a great teammate. He is a lot of fun. The other stuff that he does is really pertinent. He’s a very much viable option.”
Jeff Hoffman, Colorado Rockies: Hoffman was considered to be one of the top pitching prospects in the Blue Jays’ organization before he was traded to the Colorado Rockies as part of the trade to land all-star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki last July. The six-foot-five rightie hasn’t gotten a ton of action this spring, recording a 7.71 ERA over 4.2 innings pitched with three strikeouts, two walks and no home runs allowed, and is expected to open the year at triple-A Albuquerque. If he performs well, the 23-year-old could be up with Colorado by the end of the season.
Daniel Norris, Detroit Tigers: Norris has had a tough spring as the left-hander suffered non-displaced fractures in his spinous process last week when he fell doing box jumps in the weight room. He isn’t expected to be ready for Opening Day and should open the year on the disabled list. He was initially in competition for the fifth starter’s job, but posted a 9.95 ERA with two home runs allowed in 6.1 innings pitched prior to suffering the injury.
Danny Valencia, Oakland Athletics: Valencia found a nice role as the everyday third baseman after he was claimed off waivers by the Athletics late last season. After signing a one-year, $3.15 million deal to avoid arbitration in January, Valencia is in competition to hit in the cleanup spot after an impressive spring in which he’s drilled five home runs with 11 RBI with a batting line of .351/.400/.838 in 40 plate appearances.
Liam Hendriks, Oakland Athletics: Hendriks was traded to Oakland early in the off-season in exchange for pitcher Jesse Chavez. He is expected to land a job in the Athletics bullpen, behind Ryan Madson and Sean Doolittle, despite relatively modest spring numbers—6.75 ERA with six strikeouts and three walks in 6.2 innings.
Cliff Pennington, Los Angeles Angels: The 31-year-old utility man was picked up by the Angels in free agency on a two-year deal to provide some bench depth. He gained some notoriety in Toronto despite a brief stint with the club, mostly because he pitched during mop-up duty of an ugly Game 4 loss in the ALCS. Pennington isn’t expected to pitch in L.A., barring dire circumstances, but he’s done well this spring with the bat, hitting .422/.458/.992 with three doubles, two RBI, three walks and seven strikeouts in 49 plate appearances.
Brett Lawrie, Chicago White Sox: The 26-year-old Lawrie is on his third team in the last three years and has yet to reach the potential he displayed during an impressive 43-game stint with Toronto at the end of the 2011 season. He was traded from Oakland to Chicago over the off-season and will shift to second base on a full-time basis. In terms of spring production, Lawrie has posted so-so numbers, hitting .231/.318/.513 with three homers, six RBI and one stolen base, but strikeouts remain an issue as he’s registered 15 Ks in 44 plate appearances. He’s coming off a career-high strikeout total in 2015.
Adam Lind, Seattle Mariners: The Milwaukee Brewers shipped Lind to the Seattle Mariners in the off-season in exchange for a trio of minor league right-handed pitchers after the 32-year-old first baseman had a nice 2015 season, primarily against right-handed pitching. In Seattle, he is expected to fill a similar role, playing sparingly against left-handers and splitting some action at first base with Dae-Ho-Lee. He has fit in well with his new team hitting .269/.355/.654 with two home runs and five RBI and four doubles in 31 plate appearances.
Note: Colorado Rockies shortstop Jose Reyes didn’t appear on our list because he is currently on paid leave pending the completion of his criminal case for domestic abuse.