Fasano signs Minor League deal
Jays GM says team still looking at other catching options
TORONTO -- Sal Fasano's famous Fu-Manchu may be making a return trip to Rogers Centre. On Friday, the Blue Jays announced they have signed the veteran catcher to a Minor League contract with an invitation to Spring Training.
It's the same type of contract that Fasano signed prior to last season with the Jays and it means the club isn't done searching for a catcher to back up Gregg Zaun. Toronto has interest in free-agent catcher Miguel Olivo, who was non-tendered by the Marlins on Wednesday, and Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi said he's exploring other avenues as well.
"This just gives us a little bit of security," Ricciardi said on Friday, discussing the Fasano signing. "I still think we'll continue to try to address that area. I don't know what we'll be available. It might be via trade, and there are a few guys still out there who could fit our need via free agency. We'll see. Right now, at least we have a comfort knowing that we have a guy there."
Fasano spent most of last season at Triple-A, where he hit .262 with eight home runs and 14 RBIs in 47 games for Syracuse. The 36-year-old veteran did see time with the Blue Jays, posting a .178 average in 16 games. Fasano had season-ending surgery on his left knee in September, but he's expected to be ready by Spring Training.
The Blue Jays have been hesitant to pursue a multiyear contract for a backup catcher, considering the club has catching prospects Robinzon Diaz and Curtis Thigpen close to being ready for the big leagues. There's a chance that one of the young catchers could receive a call to the Jays at some point this season.
"Obviously, the kids will dictate that and Sal will dictate that," Ricciardi said. "If the kids are really playing well, I think we'll be put in a position where we may try to get them up here. I think this buys us enough time that we know we have a comfort in a guy that we like."
During the Winter Meetings in Nashville, Tenn., earlier this month, the Blue Jays were close to reaching an agreement with catcher Paul Lo Duca on a one-year deal believed to be worth $3 million. Lo Duca spurned Toronto's offer and signed a one-year pact with the Nationals for $5 million.
Ricciardi indicated recently that he was interested in seeing which catchers were not offered a contract by the tender deadline on Wednesday. The Marlins parted ways with the 29-year-old Olivo and the Mets non-tendered Johnny Estrada, making both catchers eligible to become free agents.
On Friday, Ricciardi said that Toronto had no interest in Estrada, but he added that Olivo was a possibility. Last season, Olivo hit .237, including a .295 mark against left-handers, with 16 homers and 60 RBIs in 122 games for Florida. Olivo threw runners out at a 33 percent clip, but he committed 12 errors and was charged with 16 passed balls.
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.