Toronto non-tendered the 30-year-old Towers (5-10, 5.38 ERA last season), who is now eligible to become a free agent. Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi was not available for comment.
Towers was chilling in his hot tub in Las Vegas when I got him on the phone to talk about his newfound freedom. He said he had "mixed emotions" when Ricciardi delivered the news, but obviously Towers knows this move could be a good move for him:
"I get a new opportunity, just like I did when I came to Toronto. I get to go start over and prove myself to a whole new organization and a whole new bunch of people that I don’t know. I kind of like that situation. Maybe I can try to go to the National League. You never know where I’m going to end up, but it’s just a new opportunity, being a free agent in a not-so-good pitching market."
That "not-so-good pitching market" was one of the reasons Ricciardi talked about bringing Towers back. Then again, Toronto would’ve had to shell out at least $2.4 million to retain the righty. The Jays could still bring him back, but only if he’d accept a Minor League contract.
Towers sounded more keen on testing his worth on the market. He said he’d love to pitch in San Diego, which showed interest in him at the Winter Meetings. Towers’ style might work well in Petco Park and he said he’d love the chance to be teammates with Greg Maddux.
"Just about every National League West team I’d like to play for. Obviously, San Diego would be ideal. They’ve got a huge ballpark and that West coast weather at night and I’d get an opportunity to play with Greg Maddux. That would be pretty unbelievable. I think I could learn a lot from him."
Towers said he would’ve liked to come back to Toronto to try and redeem himself after a 7-20 showing with a 6.50 ERA over the past two seasons. But, he’s a realist and being the type of person he is — one never known to bite his tongue about himself or the team — Towers worked in a shot at himself.
"I haven’t really done much the last two years. So, I understand why. I would’ve parted ways with me, too.
"I believe it’s a good thing. But in the end, I think I really would’ve preferred to stay. I’m not too happy about the way I left Toronto. I really didn’t feel like I did them justice and I kind of wanted another crack at it. That’s not how it’s going to be."
Towers has been working out this offseason with Reed Johnson, who did receive a contract offer along with Toronto’s other unsigned players. Exchange of arb figures comes in January and the arb hearings are later in February.
CATCHER WATCH: Ricciardi indicated that the Jays wanted to see what catchers were non-tendered on Wednesday and if they might figure into Toronto’s quest to find a backup backstop.
Well, the Marlins parted ways with Miguel Olivo and the Mets non-tendered Johnny Estrada. Olivo, 29, made $2 million last year and Estrada, 31, made $3.4 million — both as starting catchers for their respective clubs (Estrada with the Brewers).
With the Jays, Toronto needs someone who can backup Gregg Zaun (switch hitter), who is better as a left-handed hitter. So, ideally, the Jays could use a right-handed hitting catcher with a decent arm to help snuff out the running game.
Olivo (.237 AVG, 16 HR, 60 RBIs in ’07) threw runners out at a 33-percent clip last year and hit .295 vs. lefties, but he had 12 errors and 16 passed balls — yikes. Estrada (.278-10-54 as a switch hitter) hit .313 vs. lefties and had six errors and five PB, but had a 13-percent caught-stealing average — not good.
Of the two, Olivo would probably fit into the picture. Sal Fasano is still an option, too. Ricciardi said there could be news on the topic by the end of the week.
Now, about that Mitchell report…tomorrow should be fun. Goodnight all.