Following a freak injury to outfielder Michael Saunders that will keep him sidelined around 5-6 weeks, the Toronto Blue Jays added some depth on Saturday by agreeing to a minor-league contract with veteran Dayan Viciedo.
Fox Sports Ken Rosenthal was the first to report the deal. Rosenthal previously reported that both the Blue Jays and Oakland A’s were showing interest in Viciedo, but apparently not enough to extend major league offers.
The signing comes 24 days after Viciedo was released by the Chicago White Sox. During his five-year stint on the south side, Viciedo was a .254/.298/.424 hitter. He hit .231/.281/.405 in a career high 563 plate appearances last season, while adding 21 home runs and 22 doubles.
Viciedo is far from a complete player, but he does have a couple things going for him. First and foremost, there’s some pop in his bat. The power upside isn’t massive, but he’s averaged 20 per season over the last three seasons, with a career high of 25 in 2012. With a full compliment of at-bats, 20-22 home runs sounds like a safe expectation, if not a working baseline.
If they use him exclusively against left-handers, Viciedo could prove to be more a value addition. Against southpaws, his career averages rise to .291/.331/.507.
Also in Viciedo’s favor in his youth. He won’t turn 26 until March 10, so it’s possible there’s still some development left to come as approaches what is often the prime age for offensive-minded players. Of course, it’s just as likely that he is what he is, but even that is worth a flier as a short term fill-in.
On the other side of the coin, Viciedo offers next to nothing on defense. The White Sox tried him at first base, third base and both corner outfield positions and came away unimpressed at every turn. That’s not likely to change in Toronto despite their plans.
It’s pretty simple. Viciedo will have to hit to be usable, which immediately puts the pressure on him to come out swinging in Florida. If he does, it’s difficult to imagine him anywhere other than left field or an occasional designated hitter appearance.
With that in mind, Yahoo’s Ian Denomme took a look at some of the players he’ll be competing with, which include veterans Ezequiel Carrera, Chris Dickerson and Andy Dirks. Honestly, Viciedo stands out from that group just based on his power, but it would probably make the most sense to pair him up with a better defender who can hit against right-handers. With that in mind, one half of a platoon might be Viciedo’s to lose, leaving the other players to battle for that other spot.
Time will tell on that, but with Saunders expected to be back sometimes in April as opposed to the orignial feared timeline of mid-July, the window of opportunity won’t be all that wide to begin with.
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