Last week, the Toronto Blue Jays signed Mat Latos to a minor-league contract. The deal includes $1.5 million if he makes it to the Big Leagues.
When this signing was announced, the initial reaction from Blue Jays fans was “he’s a solid sixth option if a starter needs a rest”. If one of Toronto’s starters gets injured, Mat Latos has the stuff to win ballgames, and he has proven it in the past. Prior to some dreadful outings, Latos dominated in his first 24 and a third innings with the Chicago White Sox last season. He posted a remarkable 0.74 ERA through his first four starts. If he can bring some of that to Rogers Centre, the Jays may have found a diamond in the rough.
There is little doubt that Latos doesn’t make the Opening Day roster. The once dominant right-hander should provide the Blue Jays with help both on and off the field.
The 29-year-old has started in 186 of his 194 appearances in the MLB. But most don’t realize that Latos may be able to do more than just start. Latos served as a reliever for five games at the tail end of last season with the Washington Nationals. Maybe he will be able to do the same with the Blue Birds, and for more than just five outings. Most starters are unwilling to transition into a reliever role, even if it may result in them lasting longer in the league.
On the other hand, Latos is more than willing to do whatever it takes to compete at a high level, and knows that success is earned and not given. “I’m willing to do whatever I need to do, whether it’s make it as a starter, long relief, something in the bullpen, triple-A, whatever it is. I’ve got a lot of earning I need to do and I need to earn everything as it comes.”
If Latos ends up serving as a reliever, he will join a bullpen that includes fellow right handers Roberto Osuna, Jason Grilli, Joe Biagini, and newly acquired Joe Smith. Earning a spot as a multi or one-inning reliever can certainly benefit Toronto. If Latos is able to regain some of the heat on his fastball, he may be able to make Toronto’s ‘pen elite.
Mat Latos was one of MLB’s best young pitchers from 2010-2014, but struggled with injuries over the past three years ever since his meniscus surgery in 2014. Latos wasn’t looking to guilt teams into signing him, rather he is looking to prove that he is only coming back stronger. In an interview, Latos touched upon his work ethic from this offseason saying “I’ve been making myself sick working as hard as humanly possible.”
Spring Training is here and the sky is the limit if Mat Latos can play at his highest level.