TORONTO – The Toronto Blue Jays managed to pick up a minor-league asset for Jason Grilli, sending the right-hander and cash to the Texas Rangers for outfielder Eduard Pinto on Sunday.
The veteran reliever was designated for assignment last Monday after posting a 6.97 ERA in 26 games, and rather than simply eating the remainder of his $3 million salary in a release, they took a flier on a 22-year-old Venezuelan listed at 5-foot-11 and 150 pounds whose ability to hit they like.
In 46 games with advanced-A Down East in the Carolina League, Pinto slashed .311/.358/.446 with 10 doubles, four homers and 10 walks with 21 strikeouts.
INTERNATIONAL SIGNING DAY: The Blue Jays have reached agreement with a number of players, including Brazilian right-hander Eric Pardinho, ranked No. 5 by MLB.com and No. 14 by Baseball America, as the 2017-18 international signing period opened Sunday.
Pardinho is expected to receive in excess of $1 million once his deal is officially signed, a process the Blue Jays are methodically working through. Announcements from the team should begin in the coming days once ink has been put to paper.
Other players ranked in Baseball America’s Top 50 the Blue Jays have reached agreement with include shortstop Miguel Hiraldo (No. 22), right-hander Alejandro Melean (No. 32), shortstop Leonardo Jimenez (No. 36) and outfielder Alberto Rodriguez (No. 38).
Under the collective bargaining agreement’s new international spending rules, teams are subject to hard cap. For the Blue Jays, that total is $4.75 million but they added some additional pool space from the St. Louis Cardinals for single-A Dunedin outfielder Lane Thomas.
Signings of $10,000 or less do not count against the pool.
A SIDE FOR SMITH: Set-up man Joe Smith threw off the mound Sunday for the first time since hitting the disabled list with shoulder soreness, and the Blue Jays are now kicking around whether to send the right-hander out on a rehab assignment.
Smith was put on the DL retroactive to June 19 and likely needs to face some hitters before he returns. The free agent signing has posted a 3.41 ERA in 31.2 innings over 34 games, striking out 47.