(Free?) Agents

With the recent increase in payroll (thank you Ted Rogers), the Toronto Blue Jays have managed to make a bigger splash on the free agent market the last few offseasons. However, there’s no guarantee that this will translate into more wins. In addition, “free” agents are anything but that, and often chew up a disproportionately large amount of payroll.

Having said that, the Jays have certainly landed their share of big-time free agents that ended up paying off big time — including a few that played integral roles in bringing World Series championships to Toronto. Have a look at these …

Winfield_1 Dave Winfield Quite possibly the best free agent signing in Blue Jay history, Winfield joined the team for the 1992 season, and proceeded to hit .290 with 26 home runs and 108 RBIs in 156 regular season contests before becoming a Blue Jay hero by delivering the two-run double in the 11th inning of Game 6 (see left) against the Braves that won Toronto its first World Series championship.

Jack Morris — A longtime Blue Jay nemesis, Morris became the first $5 million-a-year man in team history when he signed prior to the ’92 season. He delivered as promised though, going 21-6 with a 4.04 ERA to become the Blue Jays’ first ever 20-game winner.

Paul Molitor — The veteran DH joined the Blue Jays in ’93, and made an immediate impact by hitting .332 (2nd in AL to John Olerud) in a team-high 160 games. He was even better in the postseason, batting .391 in the ALCS, and an even .500 (12-for-24) in the World Series en route to winning MVP honours.

Dave Stewart — Another former nemesis, Stewart signed with the Blue Jays prior to the 1993 season. After going 12-8 during the regular campaign, he earned two big victories against the Chicago White Sox in the ALCS, including the series-clinching 6-3 win that sent the Jays to their second straight World Series.

Roger Clemens — Though forced to break the bank, the Blue Jays certainly got Clemens at his best. The veteran right-hander dominated during his two seasons with Toronto (1997-98), capturing the AL triple crown (wins, strikeouts, ERA) two years in a row. He also earned the Cy Young award both seasons, and won a franchise-record 15 consecutive games from June 3 – Sept. 21, 1998.

This year’s big free-agent signing — Frank Thomas — continues his struggles on Saturday night, going 0-for-3 to lower his average to a dismal .197 … The Blue Jays lose their fourth straight, 5-2 to the Orioles at Camden Yards … Josh Towers is less than stellar, allowing five runs — four earned — in 5.0 innings, while also committing his second error of the young season … Manager John Gibbons gets ejected in the fifth inning … Upon his return tomorrow, he will send Gustavo Chacin to the hill attempting to avoid the Oriole sweep …

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