As is entirely his right, Jesse “one of the best pitchers in the American League in 2008″ Litsch is a free agent. The Blue Jays explain, via Twitter:
.@bluejays activate Jesse Litsch from 60-day DL. He has elected free agency instead of an assignment to the Minors
— Blue Jays-Official(@BlueJays) October 10, 2012
Well that’s… something.
And not the only bit of minor rosturbation we can participate in, as Baseball America’s Matt Eddy tweets that four other outrighted Jays pitchers have elected free agency: Scott Richmond, Bobby Korecky, Shawn Hill and Aaron Laffey.
If we’re being honest, Laffey may be the most significant loss of the five, but the bigger one to fans, of course, is Litsch, who might have provided some depth for the club in 2013, provided he had fully recovered from an injury-ruined 2012– during which questions arose about whether he’d even be able to continue his career, after developing an infection in his pitching shoulder following a PRP injection.
Judging by the decision to try his luck on the open market, I suppose one could reasonably assume that he’s healthy enough to believe someone will sign him.
So… it’s a loss, but not a major one– a healthy Litsch would have had to leapfrog multiple returning players just to get a crack at next year’s rotation, and very obviously the Jays are going to aim higher this winter.
Perhaps more interestingly, it takes the number of players on the Jays’ 40-man roster down to 37– at least by my count of the list at BlueJays.com, though the Jays tweeted late last week that they were down to 37 following their outrighting of Laffey, Hill and Korecky.
The discrepancy may be explained by the fact that the club’s official site still lists Omar Vizquel as being on the 40 [Update: Nope. As pointed out by a commenter the discrepancy exists, of course, because Litsch was on the 60-Day DL]. It also includes all of the club’s potential free agents (Kelly Johnson, Carlos Villanueva, Brandon Lyon, Jason Frasor), but not the six pitchers still on the 60-day DL, three of whom (Sergio Santos, Dustin McGowan and JA Happ) could potentially be healthy enough to compete for jobs next spring, and all of whom will have to be on the 40-man prior to the Rule V draft. In other words, there’s certainly more movement yet to come. As, y’know, you’d damn well expect.
Meanwhile, Litsch drifts away into the ether, hoping someone will give him a chance to recapture the magic that in 2008– four years and… let’s go with several pounds ago– propelled him to a 2.6 fWAR season and a 3.58 ERA that he’s never come close to in the injury-riddled years since.
Godspeed, you fat fucking Litsch.