Even though pitchers and catchers reported to Dunedin yesterday, the Blue Jays are still working to improve the pitching staff. Per Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet, the Jays are deep in discussion with pitcher Mat Latos:
The Toronto Blue Jays’ search for pitching depth has led them to a veteran right-hander seeking a bounce-back season. According to industry sources, the club is far along in discussions with Mat Latos.
While there’s no guarantee the sides reach a deal, the Blue Jays have been in contact with Latos in recent weeks as they’ve rounded out their pitching staff. The 29-year-old, a veteran of 194 MLB starts, would provide the Blue Jays with additional rotation depth. In theory, he could also pitch out of the bullpen, where his stuff might play up.
Latos presents an intriguing option for the Jays. At first glance, he can offer immediate help on the starting pitching front. The Jays are currently faced with a dilemma, as Mike Bolsinger is out of options, and Joe Biagini may be too valuable to take out of the bullpen. Latos is admittedly no longer the starter that he was from 2009 to 2014. Even so, he does bring a strong resume of starting pitching experience at the MLB level, which is more than the team has in a potential sixth starter right now.
On the other hand, Latos could transition to the bullpen. As a starter, Latos saw his fastball drop to 90.8 MPH, which is a considerable drop from the 94.1 MPH that he debuted with. Perhaps he would be able to regain some form while throwing fewer innings. Latos has also thrown his slider far less in recent seasons. Pete Walker may be able to incorporate that pitch into Latos’ portfolio as a reliever.
If Latos is signed to a minor-league deal, then he will be a sure fit for the Bisons rotation. If, on the other hand, he gets a Major League deal, then expect to see him in the bullpen. No matter which way the Jays go, Latos could provide some stabilization for a pitching staff that still isn’t completely anchored.