The Toronto Blue Jays have gone on a heavy pre-Christmas shopping spree for the Buffalo Bisons, as former Pacific Coast League slugger Luis Jimenez was among eight players signed to minor-league contracts Tuesday by the Herd’s new parent club.
Jimenez, 30, represented Tacoma of the Seattle chain in both the Triple-A All-Star Game and Triple-A Home Run Derby last July in Coca-Cola Field. And the 6-foot-3, 280-pounder blasted a couple prodigious shots over the party deck in right field during the Derby.
In 125 games at Tacoma, Jimenez hit .310 with 32 doubles, 20 home runs and 81 RBIs. He went 1 for 17 in September in Seattle in his first big-league at-bats.
Joining Jimenez in signing minor-league contracts with invitations to Toronto’s big-league spring camp are infielder Eugenio Velez, right-handers Claudio Vargas and Richard Thompson and left-hander Juan Perez. Three more pitchers (righties Buddy Carlyle and Chorye Spoone and lefty Greg Smith) inked minor-league deals.
Velez, 30, is another interesting addition. He had 37 stolen bases last year for Memphis (St. Louis), finishing one shy of the PCL lead. He batted .280 with 34 doubles, five triples, 11 homers and 58 RBIs in 136 games.
Vargas, 34, has made 217 appearances in the big leagues for six teams. He had a big year last season for Nashville (Milwaukee), going 7-1 with a 3.69 ERA in 20 starts. The other known name in the list is Carlyle, who has pitched 112 MLB games for four teams. He was 5-4, 3.43 with 73 strikeouts in 76 innings last season at Gwinnett.
Among the other signees:
•Smith, 28, was 9-10, 3.97 in 22 games (21 starts) for Salt Lake City in the Los Angeles Angels chain. He had 83 strikeouts in 138 1/3 innings. His ERA was sixth in the PCL and his .257 batting average against was fifth.
•Thompson, 28, was 4-2, 3.34 with three saves in 46 relief appearances for Sacramento (Oakland). He limited right-handed hitters to just a .198 average and had a 1.67 ERA in 21 outings after the all-star break. He pitched 44 games for the Angels in 2011 (1-3, 3.00).
•Perez, 34, split time between Milwaukee (0-1, 5.14 in 10 games) and Nashville (4-2, 3.60 in 38 games).
•Spoone, 27, was 0-2, 3.18 in 16 games with Toronto’s Double-A New Hampshire team. He opened the year in Pawtucket, going 1-1, 2.79 in 14 games.
The Blue Jays have signed more than two dozen players to minor-league deals since the end of the season, most from the outside the organization.