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Numbers Game: Blue Jays add Izturis

Scott Cullen
11/9/2012 10:38:05 AM
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The Toronto Blue Jays were active early in the free agent market, signing a utility infielder who might be in line for a bigger role.

Numbers Game breaks down the signing of Maicer Izturis.

The Blue Jays Get: 3B/SS/2B Maicer Izturis.

Izturis, 32, is a versatile switch-hitting infielder who has started at least 150 games at second base, third base and shortstop throughout his nine-year major league career.

He's also coming off a season that was his least productive offensively since his rookie year. In 2012, 61 of Izturis' 74 hits were singles, leaving him with a career-low .315 slugging percentage and his .320 on-base percentage was his lowest since 2005. He has registered an OPS of at least .720 four times in his career and in each of those seasons he finished with a fWAR of at least 2.0, so even in a utility role, he can be a valuable contributor.

The one positive to take away from Izturis' offensive game from last season was that he stole a carer-high 17 bases on only 19 attempts. Over his career, Izturis has been successful on 76.5% of his stolen base attempts.

Izturis was signed for three years and $9-million with an team option for a fourth season at $3-million.

That kind of paycheque would indicate that Izturis is going to be a utility infielder for the Blue Jays, though he may get a crack at the second base job if Toronto doesn't find a better option before the start of the 2013 season.

Keep in mind, though, Izturis has never registered 500 plate appearances in a season and topped out at 122 games in 2011, so suddenly making him an everyday player, at 32, would be a reach, if not a sign of outright desperation.

A more likely scenario is that he helps bridge the gap until Adeiny Hechavarria, a 23-year-old who had a .645 OPS in 41 games with the Blue Jays last season, is ready to handle second base on a full-time basis, at which point Izturis can resume his role as a super-utility infielder.

Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook.

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