Jays ink Fasano to Minor League deal

Jays ink Fasano to Minor League deal

TORONTO -- Sal Fasano understands that he might not make Toronto's Opening Day roster. That didn't stop the free-agent catcher from signing with the Blue Jays, though.

On Wednesday, Toronto signed the 35-year-old Fasano to a Minor League contract with an invitation to Spring Training, and it seems likely that he'll begin the year with Triple-A Syracuse. That's fine with Fasano, because he believes the Jays can contend for the playoffs this season.

"Obviously, you hate to go to the Minor Leagues," Fasano said. "But if it's a situation like Toronto, where you have an opportunity to keep playing into the postseason, you don't mind. It's a good situation and I hope I can contribute somehow."

In November, the Blue Jays re-signed catcher Gregg Zaun to be their starter with a two-year, $7.25 million contract that includes a vesting option for 2009. Toronto then avoided arbitration with Jason Phillips with a one-year, $500,000 deal in December.

Fasano becomes Toronto's third option behind the plate, but the Jays appear set to carry just two catchers. That doesn't mean Fasano won't try to compete for the backup job this spring.

"I know that Jason is going to get an opportunity to be the backup," Fasano said. "[Toronto] basically needed an insurance policy in case something happened to Gregg or Jason. I guess I fit the mold for them.

"It's probably going to be Jason's job to lose and hopefully I can have a good Spring Training."

Fasano began the 2006 season with the Phillies before being traded to the Yankees on July 25. In 78 games combined with Philadelphia and New York, Fasano hit .217 with five home runs and 15 RBIs. Since his Major League debut with the Royals in 1996, Fasano has hit .221 with 46 homers and 130 RBIs in 396 games.

Phillips spent last season as Toronto's third option behind Zaun and Bengie Molina, who signed as a free agent with the Giants this offseason. In 70 games at Triple-A, Phillips hit .273 with seven home runs and 40 RBIs. He appeared in 25 games with the Jays, hitting .250 with six doubles.

Fasano said the Jays first contacted him a couple weeks ago and he was interested from the start. Fasano was impressed with Toronto's offense a year ago and he liked the idea of playing with some of his former teammates.

Fasano played with Jays outfielder Matt Stairs in Oakland, closer B.J. Ryan in Baltimore, starter John Thomson in Colorado and Zaun in Kansas City.

"It's nice to play with guys that you've known in the past," Fasano said. "I also think they have the opportunity to make the playoffs. You get a little bit older and little bit wiser and that's what you're looking for -- a team that has an opportunity to win."

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.