Cabrera drawing interest from Jays

Cabrera drawing interest from Jays

TORONTO -- The Blue Jays continue to search for affordable rotation help this offseason, and that includes looking to the list of pitchers who were not offered contracts and became free agents on Friday.

Daniel Cabrera, who was non-tendered by Baltimore after spending the past five seasons as a starter for the Orioles, is one arm that has caught Toronto's eye at the moment. The Jays aren't alone in their pursuit, though.

"Honestly, I've heard from about half of Major League Baseball," said Mike Powers, Cabrera's agent. "I've had parameter conversations with a lot of different clubs -- some serious conversations."

Powers has received a couple contract offers for Cabrera, but the Jays haven't drawn up one of those proposals. The agent indicated that Toronto wants to have some of its scouts watch Cabrera pitch for Tigres del Licey in the Dominican Winter League before potentially taking the next step.

For now, the Blue Jays have simply shown interest, reportedly joining about a dozen teams -- the Pirates are believed to be another -- as possible suitors for the 6-foot-9 right-hander. The high interest is understandable, considering that Cabrera has ace potential with a plus fastball and a strong slider.

That being said, Cabrera's weakness has consistently been his inability to harness his control. In two of the past three seasons, the 27-year-old Cabrera led the American League in walks, and he issued nearly as many free passes (90) as he had strikeouts (95) during the 2008 campaign.

This past season, Cabrera finished 8-10 with a 5.25 ERA in 30 starts for the Orioles, going 6-5 with a 4.33 ERA before the All-Star Game and 2-5 with a 7.59 mark after it. Baltimore's decision to cut ties with the pitcher likely saved them having to pay him between $3-4 million through arbitration in 2009.

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Over his career, Cabrera -- signed by the O's as a 17-year-old out of the Dominican Republic in 1999 -- has gone 48-59 with a 5.05 ERA in 147 games. He's logged over 200 innings in a season just once (204 1/3 in 2007) and won a career-high 12 games as a rookie for Baltimore in '04.

The Jays -- without an excess of spending money this offseason -- are in the market for rotation help after losing A.J. Burnett to the Yankees through free agency this past week. Toronto inked free-agent Matt Clement to a Minor League contract on Friday and has held general discussions with the agent for pitcher Carl Pavano.

Toronto has two rotation vacancies behind ace Roy Halladay and youngsters Jesse Litsch and David Purcey. With Dustin McGowan (right shoulder) out until at least May and Shaun Marcum (right elbow) sidelined until 2010, the Jays will have a host of young arms competing for starting jobs during Spring Training.

One candidate includes right-hander Casey Janssen, who is returning from right shoulder surgery. The other possibilities include a list of young and inexperienced pitchers, including Brett Cecil, Ricky Romero, Scott Richmond and Brad Mills. The Jays are searching for some inexpensive options to add more depth.

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