Patterson among six to sign with Blue Jays

Patterson among six to sign with Blue Jays

TORONTO -- The Blue Jays completed some last minute holiday shopping Tuesday morning by signing outfielder Corey Patterson and five other players to Minor League contracts with invites to Spring Training.

The 31-year-old Patterson spent last season with the Orioles, hitting .269 with eight home runs and 32 RBIs in 90 games. During an 11-year career, Patterson has hit .253 with 112 home runs and 395 RBIs.

If the Blue Jays opt to use Jose Bautista at third base and start Rajai Davis in the outfield, that would open up a bench role for Patterson. The native of Atlanta has the ability to play all three outfield positions and his career 205 stolen bases would provide the Blue Jays with another element of speed.

Toronto also announced the signings of five other players to Minor League contracts -- catcher Ryan Budde, left-handers Sean Henn and Mike Hinckley and right-handers Winston Abreu and Brian Stokes.

Budde spent last year playing for Triple-A Salt Lake in the Angels' organization. He hit .244 with one home run and 13 RBIs for the club while also appearing in six games with the Angels. In 29 career Major League games, Budde has posted a .212 average with one home run and four RBIs.

The 31-year-old Budde will provide the Blue Jays with more depth behind the plate. J.P. Arencibia and Jose Molina are expected to start the year in the Major Leagues, while Budde will join Brian Jeroloman as candidates to replace the two catchers if any injuries occur during the season.

In the bullpen, Toronto currently has right-handers Jason Frasor, Shawn Camp and Casey Janssen and left-hander David Purcey penciled in as its top relievers. The club continues to explore the possibility of adding a closer, but for now, the favorites for the remaining three spots include Carlos Villanueva, Jesse Carlsson and Josh Roenicke. The four new recruits will be added to that mix in Spring Training.

Abreu joins the Blue Jays from the Tampa Bay organization. He went 0-4 with a 2.28 ERA in 51 appearances for Triple-A Durham. The Dominican native has appeared in 38 Major League games, going 0-1 with a 7.31 ERA.

The 31-year-old Stokes made 16 appearances for the Angels last season and finished with a 8.10 ERA in 16 2/3 innings. In five seasons, the California native has a career record of 6-11 with a 5.27 ERA.

Hinckley, 28, split last season with Double-A Bowie and Triple-A Norfolk. The left-hander has appeared in 28 Major League games, posting a 1.93 ERA in 28 appearances with the Nationals during 2008-09.

Henn rejoins the Blue Jays' organization after spending last season pitching for their Triple-A affiliate in Las Vegas. The 29-year-old went 3-4 with two saves and a 4.73 ERA. He has appeared in 60 Major League games, posting a 2-9 record with a 7.56 ERA.

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.