12/14/07 3:50 PM ET
Fasano signs Minor League deal
Jays GM says team still looking at other catching options
By Jordan Bastian / MLB.com
It's the same type of contract that Fasano signed prior to last season with the Jays and it means the club isn't done searching for a catcher to back up Gregg Zaun. Toronto has interest in free-agent catcher Miguel Olivo, who was non-tendered by the Marlins on Wednesday, and Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi said he's exploring other avenues as well.
"This just gives us a little bit of security," Ricciardi said on Friday, discussing the Fasano signing. "I still think we'll continue to try to address that area. I don't know what we'll be available. It might be via trade, and there are a few guys still out there who could fit our need via free agency. We'll see. Right now, at least we have a comfort knowing that we have a guy there."
Fasano spent most of last season at Triple-A, where he hit .262 with eight home runs and 14 RBIs in 47 games for Syracuse. The 36-year-old veteran did see time with the Blue Jays, posting a .178 average in 16 games. Fasano had season-ending surgery on his left knee in September, but he's expected to be ready by Spring Training.
The Blue Jays have been hesitant to pursue a multiyear contract for a backup catcher, considering the club has catching prospects Robinzon Diaz and Curtis Thigpen close to being ready for the big leagues. There's a chance that one of the young catchers could receive a call to the Jays at some point this season.
"Obviously, the kids will dictate that and Sal will dictate that," Ricciardi said. "If the kids are really playing well, I think we'll be put in a position where we may try to get them up here. I think this buys us enough time that we know we have a comfort in a guy that we like."
During the Winter Meetings in Nashville, Tenn., earlier this month, the Blue Jays were close to reaching an agreement with catcher Paul Lo Duca on a one-year deal believed to be worth $3 million. Lo Duca spurned Toronto's offer and signed a one-year pact with the Nationals for $5 million.
Ricciardi indicated recently that he was interested in seeing which catchers were not offered a contract by the tender deadline on Wednesday. The Marlins parted ways with the 29-year-old Olivo and the Mets non-tendered Johnny Estrada, making both catchers eligible to become free agents.
On Friday, Ricciardi said that Toronto had no interest in Estrada, but he added that Olivo was a possibility. Last season, Olivo hit .237, including a .295 mark against left-handers, with 16 homers and 60 RBIs in 122 games for Florida. Olivo threw runners out at a 33 percent clip, but he committed 12 errors and was charged with 16 passed balls.
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.