Blue Jays sign Stairs, Smith

Blue Jays sign Stairs, Smith

The Blue Jays put the finishing touches on a pair of transactions Tuesday. Toronto signed outfielder Matt Stairs to a Minor League contract and infielder Jason Smith to Major League contract.

Toronto waited until after the Rule 5 Draft on Dec. 7 to announce that it had agreed to terms on a one-year deal with Stairs, who is a native of New Brunswick. By signing him to a Minor League deal, the Jays do not have to place Stairs on the 40-man roster, yet.

Stairs, 38, hit .247 with 13 home runs and 51 RBIs in 117 games last year, when he split his time between the Royals, Rangers and Tigers. The 14-year veteran has 220 career home runs, which rank second all-time by a Canadian-born player.

With the Jays, Stairs can serve as a fourth outfielder and he can occasionally spell Frank Thomas as the designated hitter. Stairs also provides a much-needed left-handed bat off the bench, considering Toronto's projected starting lineup includes seven right-handed hitters.

The Blue Jays selected Smith, 29, from the Cubs during the Rule 5 Draft on the final day of the Winter Meetings. Smith is required to remain on Toronto's 25-man active roster all season. Otherwise, the Jays would have to offer him back to the Cubs for $25,000. Toronto is hoping Smith, who can play all four infield positions, can become a valuable utility player for Toronto.

"We like the kid. He has the chance to be our 25th guy -- that's why we took him," general manager J.P. Ricciardi said after drafting Smith. "He can play short, he can play third, and he can play second. He's a little older guy -- he's been around. We've liked him for a few years."

Smith has played in 166 Major League games and has had stints with the Cubs, Devil Rays, Tigers and Rockies. Last year, he hit .263 with five home runs and 13 RBIs in 49 games for Colorado.

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