LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Blue Jays are casting a wide net in their search for a No. 5 starter, and one name being considered is veteran free-agent lefty Carsten Sabathia.Toronto's front office met with Sabathia on Tuesday, Day 2 of the Winter Meetings, to discuss possible mutual interest.
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Blue Jays are casting a wide net in their search for a No. 5 starter, and one name being considered is veteran free-agent lefty Carsten Sabathia.
Toronto's front office met with Sabathia on Tuesday, Day 2 of the Winter Meetings, to discuss possible mutual interest. No deal is imminent and the Blue Jays are expected to address other areas of the roster besides the rotation, but this could lay the groundwork for a move later in the offseason.
Sabathia has spent the past nine seasons with the Yankees, but he also has a personal connection to the Blue Jays' current front office. President Mark Shapiro was Sabathia's general manager in Cleveland from 2001 until the six-time All Star was dealt to the Brewers in July '08.
"He's a workhorse, man," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said of Sabathia. "He's always pitched well against us. One of the great competitors in the game for a number of years. I thought he looked strong last year. He had that knee issue and some things that kind of hampered him, the [hamstring], I think it was."
Sabathia is coming off a season in which he went 14-5 with a 3.69 ERA over 148 2/3 innings. He's 37 and no longer the Cy Young Award-caliber pitcher he once was, but with Aaron Sanchez, Marcus Stroman, J.A. Happ and Marco Estrada in Toronto's rotation, the Blue Jays don't need an ace. They need a reliable fifth starter who can pitch a lot of innings.
The news of Toronto's meeting with Sabathia was confirmed by Gibbons during his media availability Wednesday morning. Gibbons was not part of the meeting with Sabathia and his representatives, but he said that he has "always liked him. He's coming off a big year and he's available."
The belief is that Sabathia is waiting to see whether the Yankees will bring him back for another season, and in the meantime, he's exploring all of his options. Sabathia's representatives have also spoken with the Angels and he reportedly is seeking a one-year contract, which would be an ideal fit for Toronto. The Blue Jays would have to sell him on bolting the Yankees for a division rival, but Gibbons believes his ballclub has a lot to offer.
"Just look at the team around you," Gibbons said. "We're coming off a tough year, no doubt, but you got guys like Russell Martin, [Josh Donaldson] coming behind you, got a lot of good things. It's a good veteran team, it's got the potential and chance to win some. It's a pretty good group, and really it's one team, one country; that's a selling point. Great fan support, all that stuff."
Toronto has Joe Biagini projected as its No. 5 starter, but is not opposed to finding an upgrade because he could be used as a reliever. The Blue Jays also remain in the market for a utility infielder, a corner outfielder and more bullpen depth.
"We need some more offense; there's no doubt about that in my mind," Gibbons said. "Then it's typical of every team out there, you need to make sure your bullpen's strong, you can never have enough of that, and then try to get some bats. The big question for us is, what's Biagini going to do? Is he a starter, reliever? Try to answer those, and if you're going to go one way or the other, you got to get another piece, that kind of thing."
Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.