With Darren Oliver now in the fold the Toronto Blue Jays say they are likely done with their off-season renovations, leaving the door open to only some minor detail work between now and spring training.
On Monday the club officially announced the signing of 41-year-old free agent Darren Oliver to a one-year, $4-million contract. His deal includes a $3-million club option for 2013.
The left-handed reliever spent the past two seasons with the Texas Rangers where he posted ERAs of 2.48 and 2.29 in 2010 and 2011 respectively with strikeout-to-walk ratios of 4.33 and 4.00.
In a conference call with reporters, Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos said Oliver’s signing leaves room to add possibly one more bullpen arm, but other than that, what you see now is likely what you’ll get when camp opens in six weeks’ time.
"I think that we’re done, but we’ll continue to explore a few things here and there," he said.
This winter the Blue Jays have seemingly been linked to every front-of-the-rotation starter on the trade market, but watched as the likes of Trevor Cahill, Gio Gonzalez and Mat Latos were dealt elsewhere. In October Anthopoulos said he would like to add another starter before next season but on Monday he refused to reveal how high it is on his to-do list.
"I don’t know if it’s a priority, the priority is to continue to make the team better," he said. "But again it can’t be forced. It has to be at the right price. There are a lot of things we could have done this past off-season to say that we did it, but I don’t think they would have been good timing or good trades for us…I think they would have been bad."
Another one of Anthopoulos’ off-season priorities was remaking the back of the bullpen and he’s done just that with the additions of Oliver, closer Sergio Santos and setup man Jason Frasor, the latter two in separate trades with the Chicago White Sox.
"Right now we feel good about our bullpen, and we are still having some dialogue and we still might add one more guy to the ‘pen. We’re still open-minded if the right free agent landed in our lap."
As for Oliver, Anthopoulos said the 18-year MLB veteran will be a welcome addition to the team’s bullpen and clubhouse.
"Darren brings a lot of things to the table," he explained. "Being left-handed in our division is very important when you look at all of the left-handed bats that we go up against.
"He’s been probably one of the better relievers in the game, especially from the left side. It’s obviously a very young team and someone like Darren has probably the best, if not the best, reputations in the game as a human being, as a teammate, work ethic, character. Those are all things that can only help, especially around a young team."
In order to make room for Oliver on the 40-man roster, Canadian utilityman Mark Teahen has been designated for assignment.
"He was just the odd man out at this point and (we) felt that this was the best way to set up our team heading into spring training," said Anthopoulos, adding that catcher Jeff Mathis and outfielder Rajai Davis are the only two "guaranteed" bench players for 2012.
Mike McCoy — who still has options — has the inside track on the backup shortstop position, while the recently-acquired Luis Valbuena will see time in spring training on the left side of the infield with the chance to compete for a utility role.
In the meantime, expect a lot of talk, but not necessarily a lot of action.
"We’re going to continue to have dialogue, have trade dialogue." said Anthopoulos. "I don’t know if we expect to do a whole lot more between now and spring training.
"I hope we do because that means that we’ve found the right deal or the right free agent signing. But as we sit here today, I don’t see us doing anything else."