The Toronto Blue Jays have signed free agent infielder Maicer Izturis to a three year, $10 million deal, with a club option for a fourth season. The versatile Izturis can play second, short, and third, and will likely settle into one of the middle infield positions with Toronto.
With second baseman Kelly Johnson hitting free agency, the Blue Jays needed to fill a hole there. Izturis will do the job, though he's not nearly as proficient offensively with the bat as Johnson. In 319 plate appearances with the Angels last season, the 32-year old Izturis had a .635 OPS, homering twice while stealing 17 bases. His best season came in 2009, when Izturis had a .793 OPS in 114 games for the Angels, homering eight times and stealing 13 bases.
Based on the contract given to Izturis, the Blue Jays don't seem to be expecting him to be an elite player. At $10 million over three years, Toronto would roughly be expecting Izturis to produce two wins of value over the life of the contract, which seems like it should be easy enough for him to attain. Izturis has been a bench player for his entire career, never logging 500 plate appearances in a season.
2012 was a step back for Izturis in comparison to the rest of his Angels career, as the first year in which he provided the team with less than a win of value. I'd feel more comfortable for the Blue Jays if he was signed to play the same sort of bench role he did with the Angels, as I don't think that he's going to be capable ot being an every day player, especially in the AL East. But at that price, Toronto isn't exactly tying themselves into a crippling contract. Hell, Izturis is the type of player that a contender would love to acquire at the trade deadline due to his versatility. But based on the way the middle infield market looks this winter, Toronto could have done a lot worse.
The signing also opens the door once again for Yunel Escobar to be dealt, just like it was opened when the Blue Jays acquired Mike Aviles from the Red Sox (before spinning him off to the Indians). With a second baseman in the fold, the door is open for Toronto's staff to evaluate Adeiny Hechavarria and see if playing him every day alongside Izturis would be worth getting rid of the underproducing distraction that is Escobar.
Slight update: the deal is actually three years and $9 million, as reported by multiple sources. Not a huge deal, but I just want to be factually correct.