With the team’s payroll apparently spent with the myriad of acquisitions made by team GM Alex Anthopoulos this winter, the Toronto Blue Jays are back to diamond-digging mode in hopes of finding some depth pieces that could eventually turn out to be more.
The latest of these is 29 year old Andy LaRoche, who was signed by the team to a minor-league deal with an invite to Spring Training to try to earn a spot on the Blue Jays bench. Which is to say that he’ll likely provide depth with the AAA Buffalo Bisons when the season begins in April.
LaRoche, who has been less successful than his brother Adam in finding consistency in the bigs, was once a top prospect in the game with the Los Angeles Dodgers, even ranking ahead of then-prospect Clayton Kershaw by Baseball America in 2007 and 2008. He was never able to translate his skills and upside into sustained results, but did have a fairly promising season as the Pittsburgh Pirates full-time third baseman in 2009, posting a .258/.330/.401 triple-slash in a 2.6 fWAR season.
He’s now several years removed from that, and has been bounced around from one minor league system to another since then. In fact, LaRoche didn’t play a MLB game in 2012 while toiling in the Cleveland Indians organization, and his last major-league stint coming with the Oakland Athletics in 2011, where he put up a .654 OPS over 40 games.
Though LaRoche will need something of a minor (see what I did there?) miracle to legitimately compete for a spot on the Blue Jays in spring, it shouldn’t come as a surprise (since the team still has that Adam Lind platoon situation to deal with) that he’s someone who has traditionally hit lefties better in his career. LaRoche had a .855 OPS in 2009, and put together a .286/.412/.429 against LHP over 34 PA the last time he was on a big-league roster.
So…eventual platoon partner? Maybe? Yeah, I guess I’m probably looking into this too much.