Signing Spring Training

Mat Latos Adds Even More Depth to Blue Jays’ Pitching Staff

Greg Fiume/Getty Images

It may not have been the “bait and switch” that Dexter Fowler pulled off last spring – seemingly signing with the Orioles and then waltzing into Cubs Spring Training Camp – but Mat Latos strolled into the Toronto Blue Jays’ locker room earlier today as the club’s latest signee.

Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith was first to report the Blue Jays had in fact signed Mat Latos, ultimately to a minor league deal with incentives if he cracks the big league roster.

The funny thing is; had this signing took place in any month other than January or February, the front office would’ve been raked over the coals. But because this transaction took place during the first week of Spring Training, it’s a low-risk move which has potential to pay off.



Mat Latos fell out of favour these past few years, but he still presents an interesting option for the bullpen (maybe even the starting rotation) as an additional right-handed reliever.

The situation is reminiscent of the Blue Jays’ signing of Randy Wolf back in the spring of 2015. He also had an invite to Spring Training but failed to crack the roster and meddled in Triple A until Wolf opted out prior to his June 1st deadline.

Similar to Randy Wolf’s deal with the Jays back then, Chris Cotillo reports that Mat Latos does indeed have opt-outs built into his contract.

At this point, the Blue Jays don’t have much to lose by bringing on Mat Latos. If his role ends up being as a reliever, that’s okay; but his wealth of starting experience may prove valuable if he makes the team and another starting pitcher goes down.

The dip in Latos’ velocity has been well-documented. In 2009, his fastball averaged around 94 MPH, but in 2016, it dropped all the way down to 90.8 MPH. However, after combing through his numbers on Baseball Savant, it looks like Latos got his fastball back up to 95.83 MPH near the end of the 2016 season.

In six games with the Washington Nationals last September, Latos’ fastball velocity averaged about 91.774 MPH; a promising sign that there may be some life left in that arm.

At this point, the Blue Jays don’t have much to lose by bringing on Mat Latos. If his role ends up being as a reliever, that’s okay; but his wealth of starting experience may prove valuable if he makes the team and another starting pitcher goes down.

Personally, I think this move is an insurance policy for Joe Biagini, regardless of what the Blue Jays ultimately decide to do with Biagini.



Signing Latos could provide the Jays with the freedom to move Biagini back into the bullpen. Although, the club would never officially announce it this early in Spring Training … but that’s essentially what they’ve done.

With the addition of Latos, the Blue Jays starting rotation depth is about eight starters now. Beyond the Blue Jays’ regular starting five starting pitchers, there’s now Joe Biagini, Mike Bolsinger and Mat Latos.

Unlike some of the arms entering Blue Jays’ Spring Training, Mat Latos comes with a track record in the majors. But the only scenario where I see Latos making the team is if he leapfrogs someone like Gavin Floyd to become the seventh or eighth reliever in the bullpen.

Given Gavid Floyd’s injury issues in the past, I might give the edge to Mat Latos for that role in the Blue Jays’ bullpen. But at the very least, the addition of Latos gives John Gibbons and the front office one more viable option.

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Ian Hunter

Ian has been writing about the Toronto Blue Jays since 2007. He enjoyed the tail-end of the Roy Halladay era and vividly remembers the Alex Rodriguez "mine" incident. He'll also retell the story of Game 5 of the ALDS to his son for the next 20 years.

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