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Lawrence, Deglan Among Seven Signed by Blue Jays to Minor League Deals

November 29, 2021 - Triple-A East League (AAA East) - Buffalo Bisons News Release

The Toronto Blue Jays have announced that they have agreed to terms with the following free agents on Minor League contracts with invites to 2022 Major League Spring Training: C Kellin Deglan, RHP José De León, LHP Matt Gage, RHP Casey Lawrence, OF Nathan Lukes, RHP David Phelps, and OF Mallex Smith

Deglan, 29, returns to the organization after ending last season with Triple-A Buffalo. The Langley, BC, native started his 2021 campaign with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders and then joined the Bisons after a trade on August 3, combining to hit .211 with four home runs and 16 RBI over 39 contests. The 6-2, 205 lb. catcher has played 10 Minor League seasons since he was selected 22nd overall by the Texas Rangers in 2010. He holds a career .227 batting average across 713 games while throwing out 25 per cent of runners attempting to steal.

Lawrence, 34, is back for another season with the organization, having gone 8-3 with a 4.40 ERA between Double-A New Hampshire and Triple-A Buffalo in 2021. The product of Albright College (PA) signed with the Blue Jays as an undrafted free agent in 2010 and made his Major League debut with the club in 2017. The right-hander from McSherrystown, PA, went 3-3 while pitching in 38 big league games over two seasons, and has a career record of 81-72 across 227 Minor League contests.

Smith, 28, played in 35 Minor League games while taking the field for three different teams last season, including seven games with Triple-A Buffalo. The 5-10, 180 lb. speedster went 11-for-15 in stolen base attempts and batted .255 in 2021. The Sante Fe College outfielder was selected by San Diego in the fifth round of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft and made his Major League debut with Atlanta in 2016. The Tallahassee, FL, native has produced a .255 career batting average with 120 stolen bases over five Major League campaigns and has hit .292 for his career in the minors.

De León, 29, made two starts and seven relief appearances for the Cincinnati Reds last season, keeping an 8.35 ERA while striking out 33 batters over 18.1 innings of work. The right-hander from Isabela, Puerto Rico, was selected by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 24th round of the 2013 First-Year Player Draft and reached the majors with them in 2016. The Southern University and A&M College (LA) product has played in parts of five Major League seasons, combining to go 4-1 with an 8.44 ERA over 22 games.

Gage, 28, spent 2021 in the Arizona Diamondbacks' system, combining to go 4-1 with a 4.14 ERA over 43 appearances between Double-A and Triple-A. The 6-4, 240 lb. lefty was drafted by the San Francisco Giants in 2014 and has pitched in the minors for three organizations while also spending a year in the Mexican League. The native of Johnstown, NY, has a record of 44-41 while keeping a 4.31 ERA over seven Minor League seasons.

Lukes, 27, batted .303 with 36 extra-base hits and 44 RBI for an .808 OPS while playing all 85 of his games for Triple-A Durham last season. The 5-11, 185 lb. outfielder was drafted by Cleveland in the seventh round in 2015 and moved to Tampa Bay's system after a trade in 2016. Over the course of six Minor League seasons, the native of Portland, OR, owns a .275 batting average while recording 109 doubles, 20 triples, 23 homers, and 206 RBI in 515 games.

Phelps, 35, allowed just one earned run in 11 games with the Blue Jays last season, posting a 0.87 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP before being sidelined for the year with a right lat strain in May. The St. Louis native is signing with Toronto for the third time, also pitching for the club in 2019. The 6-2, 195 lb. veteran was drafted by the New York Yankees in 2008 and has pitched for seven teams during his nine-year career, combining to go 34-38 with a 3.90 ERA and 602 strikeouts.

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