Needing a warm body to round out the team’s roster for 2013, the Toronto Blue Jays announced today that they’ve signed 37-year old Mark DeRosa to a one-year deal worth $.75 million, with a team option that can be picked up for 2014.
Though DeRosa will officially serve as a reserve player coming off the bench, his title might be more accurately described as a hybrid bench coach/clubhouse guy, as the veteran is unlikely to see much action in the upcoming season with Emilio Bonifacio and Maicer Izturis already ahead of him in the depth chart.
It’s a similar role that Omar Vizquel played for the team last season, and even though the Vizquel experience wasn’t entirely a positive one for the bluebirds, DeRosa has the reputation – as Jon Morosi notes – of being quite the clubhouse motivator on some very good teams over recent years:
Like the DeRosa signing for Jays. One of the best clubhouse guys in baseball. Was around Giants and Nats when they got good.
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) January 22, 2013
Either that, or he had quite the knack for being in the right place at the right times.
In any case, the arrival of DeRosa also meant that Sam Dyson, a prospect reliever that had what ex-manager John Farrell called “maybe the best overall stuff in the organization”, was designated for assignment to make room on the roster.
I’ll skim over DeRosa’s stats, because it seems largely irrelevant here. At the tail-end of his career, DeRosa has appeared in just 121 games over the last three years, and a litany of injuries – he landed on the DL four times over the last two seasons for a variety of ailments, missing 154 games over that period – means that his career .833 OPS against LHP isn’t something that should be looked at too seriously.
Nah, the Blue Jays aren’t bringing in DeRosa for his play on the field, and they’re not paying him like it. If DeRosa can stay healthy enough to stay on the bench and help maintain team chemistry with this new-look Blue Jays roster over the next 162 games, he will have done his job.
Having talent on the roster is one thing – getting them to play together is a different story. It would seem that for the Blue Jays, bringing in DeRosa to help with the latter is worth the price of keeping the majors that much farther away from Mike McCoy.