Spring training for pitchers and catchers began this week for most of Major League Baseball. The American League East Toronto Blue Jays are one team still searching for depth on their pitching staff.
The search has led the Blue Jays to Mat Latos, a veteran right-hander who is looking for a bounce-back year. MLB sources have said that the Blue Jays and Latos are far along in their discussions regarding a contract.
While no guarantee exists that the two sides will even come to an agreement and sign a deal, Toronto has contacted Latos over the past few weeks while trying to complete their pitching staff heading into spring training.
Latos, who is 29, has started 194 Major League games and would provide Toronto with much more depth in their starting rotation. The thought by baseball pundits is that Latos could also come out of the bullpen, where he might even be more effective at this point.
If the two sides can agree to a deal, it is believed Latos would be given a deal of $1.5 million if he were to pitch for the Blue Jays and not a minor league affiliate.
Latos received votes for the Cy Young award when he was just 22 after posting an ERA of 2.92 in his 31 starts back in 2010 with the San Diego Padres.
That was followed by four more strong seasons, but the past two seasons he has struggled after he was traded to Miami in December 2014. From that point on, he has played for five MLB organizations and posted an ERA of 4.93.
Of recent, Latos pitched in 2016 for the Chicago White Sox as well as the Washington Nationals. He pitched just 70 innings with an ERA of 4.89. He started only 12 times and made a career high 8 appearances in relief.
In 2016, his fastball averaged 90.1 mph which was down from his best speed back in 2009 of 94.2 mph.
The starting rotation for Toronto appears set, with J.A. Happ, Aaron Sanchez, Marcus Stroman, Francisco Liriano and Marco Estrada all coming back from last season.
Nevertheless, all 30 teams in the league need to have depth in their starting rotation and there is a lack of strong alternatives for Toronto in that area.
Lese certainty exists for the Blue Jays in the bullpen, where two or more spots are not decided behind Jason Grilli, Roberto Osuna, J.P. Howell, Joe Smith and Joe Biagini.