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Double Play: Non-tender ideas for Blue Jays

Daan De Kerpel, TSN.ca
12/3/2010 2:57:23 PM
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As of late Thursday night, around 50 baseball players became free agents when their former teams failed to offer them arbitration.

Last season, Toronto Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos took an opportunity to sign John Buck when he was non-tendered and as Jays fans know, Buck flourished with club, getting an All-Star nod, and a subsquent three-year, $18 million contract from the Florida Marlins.

Because Anthopoulos is always looking to upgrade his club, this new stream of players could be provide him with that ability.

Here is a breakdown of players that might make sense for Toronto:

Russell Martin: While the Jays already have two catchers signed in J.P. Arencibia and Jose Molina, Anthopoulos has made it clear that he likes building his clubs up the middle of the diamond and for that reason, he's still in the market for a catcher.

Martin is coming off his third straight season with declining numbers, and had hip surgery in August, but that hasn't scared off teams, with both the Yankees and Red Sox reportedly showing interest.

The fact that big-market clubs are after Martin means that his price tag will likely go up, but if he could rebound to his previous All-Star form, the Jays would obviously love to add the Canadian to their roster.

Dioner Navarro: What a difference three years makes.  In 2008, the catcher appeared in 120 games and posted a .295 batting average with a .349 on-base percentage.  Since then, he's posted a .218/.261 line in 2009, and a .194/.270 line in 2010.

Things got so bad for Navarro that he only saw 48 games in the majors last season, and was sent back down to Triple-A where he hit .284, with a .387 on-base percentage.

Like Martin, Navarro is a huge question mark, but he could be one that would come at a cheaper price tag.

J.P. Howell: After posting a 2.82 ERA and 79 strikeouts in 66.2 innings with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2009, the left-hander missed the entire 2010 season because of shoulder surgery.

While all reports indicate that Howell would prefer to re-sign with the Rays, he's the type of arm that could help the rebuilding Jays bullpen.

Jack Cust: The 31-year-old designated hitter is very much a poor man's Adam Dunn.  He's a high on-base, low batting average slugger.  While the Jays currently have Adam Lind penciled in as their DH, they could shift him to first base.

Cust would bring some much needed on-base percentage to the Jays, if they could live with the fact that he's basically a one-position player.

Matt Diaz: The 32-year-old right-handed batter would serve as a perfect fourth outfielder or platoon partner for Travis Snider against tough lefties.  While his overall hitting numbers aren't great, he has always hit left-handed pitching very well.  The left fielder has a career .335 mark against left-handers.

Former Red Sox players Manny Delcarmen and Hideki Okajima, former Blue Jay Edwin Encarnacion, former top prospect Lastings Milledge and Mets pitcher John Maine are also some of the new free agents.  Click here for TSN.ca's updated Free Agent Tracker.

Now we want to hear from you.  Which free new free agent, if any, should the Blue Jays go for?  As always, it's Your! Call.

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