Omar Vizquel will turn 45 years old in April. (US Presswire)
Vizquel will try to keep this baseball thing going for a 24th season, agreeing to a minor-league deal with the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday. The news was first reported by ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick, then confirmed by Vizquel himself. All on the Twitter, as the kids say.
Set to turn 45 in April, Vizquel won't be the oldest player in the majors if — and when — he wins a job with the Jays. He has Tim Wakefield (46 in August) to thank for that. (Both of them would cede seniority to Jamie Moyer, 49, if he earns a spot with the Colorado Rockies.)
Vizquel appeared in 58 games with the Chicago White Sox last season, batting .251/.287/.305 in 182 plate appearances. But as his 11 Gold Gloves will tell you, Vizquel has always been known more for his glove. Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos either feels that Vizquel can play John McDonald's former role of backing up every infield position, or he's hoping that bringing in another infielder might challenge incumbent utility man Mike McCoy and recently acquired Luis Valbuena.
Looking at advanced defensive metrics such as Ultimate Zone Rating, one could question whether Vizquel's reputation as a slick glove man surpasses his actual skills these days. UZR doesn't look too kindly on his performance at second and third base, but he can apparently still play a decent shortstop. That's probably not an unimportant consideration, with groundballs moving quicker on the Rogers Centre turf.
Of course, Vizquel doesn't figure to play much more than he did last year with Brett Lawrie, Yunel Escobar and Kelly Johnson each solidly entrenched at their positions. But maybe having a veteran infielder around who's comfortable in a backup role is considered a better fit.
At the very least, Vizquel continuing to play gives us all an opportunity to make jokes about how old he is. For instance, he's the last active major leaguer to have played in the Blue Jays' former home ballpark, the multi-purpose monstrosity known as Exhibition Stadium. Surely, that's good for some horror stories to share with the Toronto media.
But as long as a team is willing to give Vizquel a shot at playing some more baseball, why not keep lacing up those cleats? And if he can't win a job, then maybe it's time to call it a career. Until then, however, where else can a 44-year-old man get away with wearing a cap backwards with fancy sunglasses and not look completely ridiculous?
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- Omar Vizquel
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