On Tuesday, Toronto reached a preliminary agreement on a one-year deal with free-agent starter Tomo Ohka. The deal is pending a physical, so Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi didn’t want to get into financial specifics until the deal was official. The contract is believed to be worth $1.5 million with another $1.5 million in incentives.
So as it currently stands, Roy Halladay, A.J. Burnett, Gustavo Chacin, John Thomson and Tomo Ohka would make up Toronto’s rotation. Both Thomson and Ohka come with some recent injury history, and both Burnett and Chacin struggled with elbow issues last year, too. So if someone goes down this spring, Shaun Marcum, Josh Towers, Casey Janssen and Dustin McGowan could be in the running for a rotation spot.
Marcum and Towers could also be in the running for a long relief role out of the bullpen. Towers isn’t ideal out of the bullpen, but Marcum has experience as a reliever and a starter, making it very possible that he could take that job. Janssen and McGowan seem destined for Triple-A. Anything can happen during Spring Training, though.
The Thomson and Ohka signings are both low risk deals that could turn out to be bargains for Toronto. If both are over their injuries, they are each capable of making 30 starts and logging 180-200 innings — all for the base price of $3 million combined.
For Ohka and his agent, Jim Masteralexis, run support played a big role in the decision. Ohka has a career ERA of 4.04, but a 48-57 record partly because he’s never pitched for a team with a prolific offense. That shouldn’t be an issue with Toronto, which should have one of the best O’s in all of baseball in 2007.
Ohka was initially looking for a three-year deal and he had a number of two-year offers on the table as recent as Monday. The pitcher and his agent decided instead to focus on one-year offers. That way Ohka can possibly benefit from pitching for a competitive team and once again become a free agent in 2008.