Griffin: Frasor proves you CAN come home again
On the afternoon of New Year's day, the Blue Jays unexpectedly announced they had re-acquired righthanded reliever Jason Frasor from the White Sox for a pair of minor league pitchers, Myles Jaye, 20, and Daniel Webb, 22. Jaye was selected in the 17th round of the June '10 draft, while Webb was chosen in the 18th round of the '09 draft.
"It's hard to believe I'm going back to Toronto," Frasor said via conference call on Sunday afternoon. "My wife is thrilled. It's great. I don't know how else to convey that. We're excited. I can't wait to put on those new uniforms."
Frasor's wife is a Toronto-area native. When he woke up at his winter home in the Tampa area on New Year's morning, the veteran righthander had a text from his former boss, Jays' GM Alex Anthopoulos: "Can we talk later today?" At around noon his agent called and said, "Can you believe what's going on? You've been traded back to Toronto."
"I said, 'Oh my God, I had no idea." Frasor recalled the conversation. "I didn't know what Alex wanted. I thought he might have wanted to talk. He likes to talk. He's a talker."
Frasor, whose option year was already picked up by the White Sox for $3.75 million, becomes another in the long line of repatriated Jays and one that will help a bullpen in late innings that by season's end was once again under construction.
Others have gone in trade or as free agents and come back to the Jays' organization. Just this past season the club re-acquired pitchers Trystan Maguson and Daniel Farquhar that had both been traded fpr Rajai Davis last winter. There have been others more famous like Pat Hentgen, Dave Stieb and John McDonald.
Frasor began the '11 season with the Jays, becoming the longest serving reliever in club history in his eighth consecutive year. He had joined the Jays on Opening Day of the '04 season in a trade from the Dodgers for outfielder Jayson Werth and had been there ever since. The 34-year-old Frasor was a key part of the July trade that brought centre fielder Colby Rasmus to Toronto, ending up with the White Sox as part of a three way deal. He was sent to the Sox with righthander Zach Stewart for starter Edwin Jackson and utility man Mark Teahen. Jackson was moved on the the Cards. When the Chicago-area native heard about the July 27 trade, he believed it was the end of his association with the Jays.
"It felt like that was it," Frasor recalled of his emotions at the moment of the trade. "It felt like I was never coming back. It rerally did. It was an emotional day. I think it was the first time I cried since I gave up five runs in Atlanta a couple of years ago. I knew I was liked in Toronto and I guess looking back there might have been a chance, but I never thougt I'd be coming back the next season. It's hard to believe"
Frasor in 2011 broke the club's all-time record for appearances set by Tom Henke, ending his Toronto career with a 24-28 record and 36 saves in 455 games. He made 20 appearances with the White Sox, setting up Sergio Santos, now the Jays' closer.
"We played in Syracuse together when he was a shortstop," Frasor said of the coincidence of re-joining Santos. "He bounced around from there and then last year we played a couple of months in Chicago and now we're back with Toronto again. I know the baseball fans are going to like him. I will set him up any day, as long as I'm setting up somebody with a game to be saved. I can't believe that Alex pulled him away from Chicago, first of all, then for me to go back there and set him up is great."
One of the Jays' primary tasks at the end of the season, according to Anthopoulos, was to rebuild the bullpen that was about to be decimated by free agency and trade. With the re-acquisition of Frasor, the task is almost complete. The closer for 2012 is Santos, with late-inning arms in Frasor, Casey Janssen and lefthander Darren Oliver. They also have Jesse Litsch, Carlos Villanueva and a second lefthander in either Luis Perez or Aaron Laffey.
"I have been keeping up with the transasctions," Frasor admitted. "Darren Oliver and Santos and Casey's coming back, obviously. Now me. I think there's four guys right there you can rely on."
And with spring training around the corner that's an extra six weeks for Jason at home, with Jays' training camp just a short drive from his Florida residence, instead of re-locating the family to Chisox camp in Arizona. Thus far it's been a happy new year for the Frasors.