Stairs will return

The Blue Jays announced Friday that the club has re-signed veteran Matt Stairs to a two-year contract worth $3.25 million. The St. John’s, NB native has earned a significant raise due to his highly successful 2007 season. In 125 games last year, Stairs hit .289 with 21 homers and 64 RBIs for the Blue Jays, who were without the services of outfielder Reed Johnson for much of the year due to injury.

It’s hard to say what the Canadian will produce in 2008 and beyond. Stairs is climbing in age, after all. In fact, he will be 40 years old when the first pitch is thrown on Opening Day — April 4 — of next season. Should the Blue Jays keep Johnson, it’s likely that he and Stairs will share the duties in left field. If that were the case, however, 24-year-old Adam Lind would likely start the campaign at Triple-A Syracuse.

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Should Stairs fulfill this new contract in its entirety, he would become the oldest position player in Blue Jay history. Here’s a list of those who’ve played for Toronto past the age of 40 (and their age at last game):

Phil Niekro, RHP — 48 years, 4 months, 28 days
Dave Stieb, RHP — 41 years, 2 months, 3 days
Dave Winfield, DH — 41 years, 0 months, 21 days
Dave Parker, DH — 40 years, 3 months, 23 days
Dan Plesac, LHP — 40 years, 3 months, 18 days

And let’s not forget that DH Frank Thomas will turn 40 on May 27 of next season. 

Here’s hoping Stairs enjoys life after 40 as much as former Blue Jay Dave Winfield, who was acquired as a 40-year-old during the 1991 offseason. As Toronto’s DH in ’92, Winfield hit .290 with 26 home runs and 108 RBIs, leading the Jays back to the playoffs. And for an encore, Winfield laced an 11th-inning double to bring home two runs — including the eventual winner — in Game 6 against the Atlanta Braves to clinch Toronto’s first ever World Series championship.   

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