The Blue Jays opted to sign free-agent Rod Barajas to a deal, but Barajas backed out on the deal after he switched agents and eventually signed with the Philadelphia Phillies. That temporarily clouded their plans until they floated out the possibility of turning to a Glendale native to handle the full-time catching responsibilities.
In stepped Gregg Zaun, a 1989 St. Francis High graduate who had served as a reserve for the Blue Jays the past three seasons.
Zaun, who had also filed for free agency and reportedly received interest from the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, figured it would be a wise career move to remain with Toronto. He inked a two-year deal with the Blue Jays, who also lost starting catcher Bengie Molina to free agency, with an option in 2009.
Zaun couldn’t — and wouldn’t — pass up the opportunity to become a starting catcher.
“I had filed for free agency more to see what was out there,” Zaun said before a recent road game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Angels Stadium. “But, the Blue Jays were clear about me coming back.
“Filing for free agency would be my only chance to carve out a serious contract. It worked out in the end staying with the Blue Jays, and they’ve invested a couple of years in me.”
The Blue Jays, who are in third place in the American League’s East Division, believed the 36-year-old Zaun would be an ideal fit behind the plate to handle a Toronto pitching staff mixed with varying levels of experience.
Being able to help the pitching staff and provide leadership wasn’t something Zaun planned to reject.
“My familiarity with the pitchers and coaches is a big thing for me,” said Zaun, who entered Sunday’s game batting .230 with 7 home runs and 36 runs batted in. “We had made strides in 2004 and 2005, and we had the lowest ERA among the teams in our division in 2005.