Towers not tendered a contract for '08
Free-agent right-hander hopes to land in National League West
TORONTO -- One thing Josh Towers never did during his four-year tenure with the Blue Jays was sugar-coat any of his misfortunes. So it came as no surprise when the pitcher took a self-deprecating stance on his latest career turn with Toronto.
On Wednesday night the Blue Jays chose not to tender Towers a contract for the 2008 season, ending the right-hander's inconsistent run with the club. Towers, who is now a free agent, didn't spout off at the organization in the wake of the news -- quite the opposite, in fact.
"I haven't really done much the last two years," Towers said by phone from his home in Las Vegas. "So I understand why. I would've parted ways with me, too."
Over the past two seasons with the Jays, Towers went a combined 7-20 with a 6.50 ERA in 40 games, including 27 starts. That performance came after Toronto had rewarded him with a two-year, $5.2 million deal after he'd gone 13-12 with a 3.71 ERA in 2005.
Last year Towers posted a 5-10 record with a 5.38 ERA between stints in the rotation and bullpen. Still, general manager J.P. Ricciardi, who was not available for comment on Wednesday, indicated that Toronto was considering re-signing Towers for 2008 in light of the current market for pitching.
"I believe it's a good thing," said Towers, referring to being non-tendered. "But in the end, I think I really would've preferred to stay. I'm not too happy about the way I left Toronto. I really didn't feel like I did them justice, and I kind of wanted another crack at it. That's not how it's going to be."
Toronto would have had to offer Towers, who was eligible for arbitration, at least $2.4 million for 2008. The team could still potentially bring him back for next season, but only with a Minor League contract.
Towers sounded more than ready to see what offers might come his way on the free-agent market, though.
"I get a new opportunity, just like I did when I came to Toronto," he said. "I get to go start over and prove myself to a whole new organization and a whole new bunch of people that I don't know.
"I kind of like that situation. Maybe I can try to go to the National League. You never know where I'm going to end up, but it's just a new opportunity, being a free agent in a not-so-good pitching market."
If he had his pick, Towers said, he would enjoy pitching for the San Diego Padres, who reportedly showed interest in trading for the pitcher during last week's Winter Meetings in Nashville, Tenn. Towers, a native of California, said that he'd be interested in playing for any other team in the NL West, as well.
"Just about every National League West team I'd like to play for," he said. "Obviously, San Diego would be ideal. They've got a huge ballpark and that West Coast weather at night, and I'd get an opportunity to play with Greg Maddux. That would be pretty unbelievable. I think I could learn a lot from him."
Toronto offered contracts to the remainder of its unsigned players before Thursday's midnight deadline. That includes offers to Toronto's seven other arbitration-eligible players -- Alex Rios, Reed Johnson, Scott Downs, Marco Scutaro, Jason Frasor, Brian Tallet and Gustavo Chacin.
In January the Jays who are eligible for arbitration will exchange salary figures with the club. If the two sides can't agree on a contract during the negotiating process, the players can have the issue settled during the arbitration hearings, which are held Feb. 1-21. Toronto hasn't gone to arbitration with a player since 1997.
The Jays, who are also searching for a backup catcher this winter, were interested in seeing which catchers were non-tendered on Wednesday. The Marlins parted ways with Miguel Olivo and the Mets did not offer a contract to Johnny Estrada. The Jays have also kept dialogue going with veteran free agent catcher Sal Fasano, who is in the mix for the job.
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.