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Blue Jays sign Vlad to Minor League deal

If View Full Game Coverage all goes right, Vladimir Guerrero will be returning to Canada -- where he started his Major League career -- after signing a Minor League deal with the Blue Jays on Thursday.

But that scenario remains far from a guarantee for the 37-year-old Dominican, who has yet to play a game this season.

Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos saw no harm in signing the veteran to a $1.3 million contract that will be prorated for his time spent in the Majors, but admits Guerrero isn't even a certainty to be added to Toronto's 25-man roster.

"It's strictly a matter of, there's no such thing as a bad Minor League contract," Anthopoulos said in a conference call about Guerrero, a nine-time All-Star. "There's no guarantees on behalf of the club. There is no financial commitment. ... We continue to look for depth in all areas whenever we can. Any time we have a chance to get someone on a Minor League contract, we almost always explore it because you never know if someone can get lighting in a bottle. ... There's really no downside from the club's standpoint. He was an everyday player last year."

Guerrero will only cash in on the amount if he's added to the big league roster, which Anthopoulos expects wouldn't happen until June at the earliest. In that case, Guerrero would make around $800,000 over the course of the season and could potentially provide the Blue Jays with solid value on the investment. He will report to extended spring training in Dunedin, Fla., where the Blue Jays will get their first look at him.

"We're not adding anybody to the Major League roster," Anthopoulos said. "This isn't someone right now that we're prepared to say is going to be up in Toronto. I have no idea how he's going to look, how's he going to perform, how he's going to play. ... There is no risk and no downside and at a minimum it provides depth. Certainly, there's the upside that he could play very well and be a factor for us."

The Blue Jays first explored signing Guerrero in Spring Training, but failed to make any progress, according to Anthopoulos. Guerrero has since switched agencies and it is understood that if there is no opportunity for him in Toronto, the Blue Jays will let him look elsewhere, despite having no out-clause -- club policy -- in his contract.

Anthopoulos said the Blue Jays have not seen Guerrero nor do they have any idea what type of shape he's in, other that what they've heard. He added Guerrero would have to work himself through the system before joining the club.

"In a lot of ways, it's like he's starting Spring Training," Anthopoulos said. "As soon as we feel he's ready to play in games, we'll certainly go ahead and do that."

Guerrero, who was used exclusively as a designated hitter with the Orioles last season, hit .290 with 13 homers, 63 RBIs and a career-low .733 OPS over 145 games.

Anthopoulos wouldn't speculate on what type of role Guerrero would have with the club, if he makes it, but the likely scenario would have him see part-time duties at DH against left-handers, with Edwin Encarnacion sliding over to first base. That could result in Adam Lind getting squeezed out of playing time, as the Blue Jays would have the luxury of stacking their lineup with more right-handers, as Encarnacion is familiar with first base, a position he has played six times this season.

Blue Jays manager John Farrell is cautious with placing expectations of any kind on Guerrero, like Anthopoulos, but is intrigued with what he offers.

"Time will tell if that impact is there," Farrell said. "It's a proven bat for obvious reasons [with] the production he's had. We also look at it as really a no-risk on anyone's part. We've got a chance to bring in a veteran player that could pay dividends provided certain things take place."

Over the course of his career, Guerrero has hit .322/.400/.572 against lefties, including .288/.323/.386 in 2011. Lind, meanwhile, is a .219/.263/.345 career hitter against left-handers and this season has hit just .148 over 27 at-bats against them entering play Thursday.

Anthopoulos wouldn't even hint that a platoon is the way the Blue Jays would go and, at the very least, Guerrero's arrival could simply give Lind -- who was plagued by a bad back last season -- some more off-days and provide the Blue Jays with a little more flexibility in their lineup.

Guerrero is a .318 career hitter over parts of 16 seasons with the Expos, Angels, Rangers and Orioles, with 449 home runs and a .931 OPS. He was named the American League MVP with the Angels in 2004.

Vladimir Guerrero