TORONTO - The Toronto Blue Jays moved to beef up their outfield Sunday by re-signing the versatile Jose Bautista to a US$2.4-million, one-year deal and added speedster Joey Gathright on a minor-league contract.
They also reached preliminary agreement on a US$2-million, one-year deal with catcher John Buck, who was non-tendered by the Kansas City Royals on Saturday, and brought back Raul Chavez on a minor-league deal a day after non-tendering the backstop.
The Buck deal is pending a physical.
GM Alex Anthopoulos declined comment on Buck, but said both Bautista and Gathright will be given the chance to win a starting job during spring training and that's he's still looking to bring in another candidate for the outfield.
Additionally, injured right-hander Dustin McGowan agreed to a $500,000, one-year contract.
Bautista, a 29-year-old who can play all three outfield positions plus third base, hit .235 with 13 home runs and 40 RBIs in 113 games last season. Gathright split his season between the Chicago Cubs and Boston, playing 37 games and recording a .267 average while spending most of the year in the minors.
The Blue Jays outfield is settled only in centre field, where Vernon Wells plays. GM Alex Anthopoulos said recently that top prospect Travis Snider, who can play right or left, will have to make the club out of spring training.
Slugger Adam Lind can play left field, but the team seems to prefer him at DH.
ESPN.com, meanwhile, reported that Buck and the Blue Jays have agreed to a $2-million, one-year deal pending a physical. He hit .247 with eight homers and 36 RBIs in 59 games for the Royals.
Chavez played 51 games with the Jays last season as a back up, hitting .258 with two home runs and 15 RBIs.
McGowan missed last season recovering from shoulder and knee surgery.