Hernandez among 5 pitchers to agree to terms

Blue Jays also claim outfielder Lake off waivers from Orioles

Hernandez among 5 pitchers to agree to terms

TORONTO -- The Blue Jays overhauled the upper levels of their Minor League system on Friday afternoon by officially coming to terms with five pitchers and claiming an outfielder off waivers.

The group of pitchers is headlined by veterans Roberto Hernandez and Brad Penny. Scott Copeland, Wade LeBlanc and Pat McCoy also agreed to terms, while outfielder Junior Lake joined the club through waivers via Baltimore.

Toronto has been looking to improve its pitching depth for most of the offseason. Club president Mark Shapiro recently said Triple-A Buffalo's pitching staff featured five pitchers named "blank" when he joined the organization in November, and a full transition was required.

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Since then, the Blue Jays have signed lefty Scott Diamond to a Minor League deal and now the five additions that were made Friday. All six pitchers received invitations to Spring Training and will compete for jobs, but they will likely begin the year in the Minors.

Penny and Hernandez are the most recognizable names from the latest group of signees. They have a combined 24 years of experience at the big league level, but they have spent most of the past several seasons in the Minors. Hernandez appeared in 20 games for the Astros in 2015 and posted a 4.36 ERA in 84 2/3 innings. Penny has thrown just 26 innings in the Majors since '13.

Toronto has a projected starting rotation of Marcus Stroman, Marco Estrada, R.A. Dickey and J.A. Happ, with Drew Hutchison, Jesse Chavez and possibly Aaron Sanchez competing for the fifth spot. After that, there wasn't a lot of depth, and the additions of Penny, Hernandez and Copeland provide some insurance.

LeBlanc and McCoy likely will compete for a spot in the bullpen. Toronto's relievers are led by Roberto Osuna, Brett Cecil and likely Sanchez, while Aaron Loup projects as the second lefty. That leaves three jobs up for grabs, with LeBlanc and McCoy providing alternative options to Loup.

The 31-year-old LeBlanc spent last year pitching in Japan, and he posted a 4.23 ERA with 26 strikeouts and 18 walks in 44 2/3 innings. LeBlanc has made 71 career starts in the Major Leagues and has the ability to throw multiple innings, but he likely would be considered for shorter stints in Toronto.

The 27-year-old McCoy made 14 appearances for the Tigers in 2014 and allowed six earned runs over 14 innings. Last season, he made all but one of his 27 appearances out of the bullpen for Triple-A Norfolk, with a 4.18 ERA over 51 2/3 innings.

Lake appeared in 29 games for the Cubs and Orioles last season with a .200 average, one homer and five RBIs. He's a career .237 hitter with 16 home runs, 46 RBIs and 15 stolen bases over parts of three years in the big leagues. He is out of options on his contract, and he would have to clear waivers before being assigned to the Minors.

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