He always seems to float into the Blue Jays rumor-mill, doesn't he? Welp, 2017 is no exception, my friends. As per Ben Nicholson-Smith -
And by no means is this a super shitty acquisition, should it happen. Well, this depends on the salary and term, of course. But you have to believe that it won't be longer than a year, if the Howell and Smith signings are any indications. There a few reasons for why this makes sense.
For starters, and the most obvious, it's depth. It's beyond safe to assume that the rotation, as it is currently laid out, won't be without injuries or setbacks. Latos allows the Jays to have a little bit of insurance in the event that, oh I dunno, Estrada's back gives out again, or Happ has some forearm issues, or Liriano has a bit of a hiccup, or Sanchez needs to skip a start to preserve his arm strength (I'm just spitballing here). Look at him as if he was the sixth starter.
Secondly, it makes sense in the event that the whole Biagini-Conversion doesn't translate. If in the event that Biagini is better off as a bullpen piece, the Jays have Latos as a back-up plan for any of the scenarios I've listed above, et al. OR, in the event that the Biagini does make a smooth transition as a starter, the Jays have Latos as a bullpen arm. It's one of those "better to have it and not need it" kind of things.
Latos didn't exactly have lights-out stuff last season, but it wasn't necessarily bag-of-smashed-asshole brutal either. While pitching for both the White Sox and Nationals, Latos posted a 4.89 ERA over the span of 70 innings, while starting 12 games and coming out of the bullpen in a relief role 8 times. If it's any consolation (it's not), he did start off strong for Chicago last season, posting a 0.74 ERA through his first few starts. But, yeah, he kind of blew up after that, ballooning his ERA up to 7.25 before being released by the Sox in June. Which, yeah, it's kind of ugly. Sure, he isn't the Cy Young candidate from 2010, but if the Jays can have someone coming out of the pen/as their 6th starter and throw around 90 mph (his average fastball speed last season), then fuggit - why not? The Jays could certainly do worse. It's not as if the Jays are looking for him to be a key contributor out the gate. As I've said, depth.
I suppose the driving force in this is the lack of a 6th starter at the moment. Should anything happen to one of the members of the starting rotation early in the season, the Jays would either have to make a quick and hasty signing or rush Biagini into a role that he may not be prepared for, in terms of endurance. In my view, it's better to be prepared.
BUT, it may not even happen. This may be all for nothing as a signing has yet to come to fruition, as if this writing. I'll keep you posted.
UPDATE 2/16/17 11:09am
According to Ben Nicholson-Smith, the Blue Jays have indeed agreed on a minor league deal with Mat Latos. Shi Davidi of SportsNet provides the contract details below via his twitter.
Mat Latos minor-lg deal is worth $1.5m if he makes the team + up to $500k in incentives, per sources. Mix of starting and relief incentives— Shi Davidi (@ShiDavidi) February 16, 2017