Blue Jays ink Ohka to 1-year deal

The Toronto Blue Jays added some pitching depth, signing right-handed starter Toma Ohka on Tuesday.

The Toronto Blue Jays added some pitching depth Tuesday, signing right-handed starter Tomo Ohka.

With performances bonuses, the one-year deal could be worth as much as $3 million US and will be finalized once Ohka passes a physical later this week.

"Tomo took less money to come pitch in Toronto," said Jim Masteralexis, Ohka's agent. "He wants to prove that he is healthy and show he has the mettle to pitch in the toughest division in baseball.

"This was the best timing and fit. Toronto was the best baseball team."

Ohka, 31, will compete for a job in Toronto's rotation with veterans John Thomson and Josh Towers as well as youngsters Casey Janssen, Shaun Marcum and Dustin McGowan.

"We're just trying to put another arm in the mix," Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi said. "This was something that was on-again, off-again [and] that finally came to fruition."

Thomson, who pitched last season for the Atlanta Braves, was signed when Ricciardi's efforts to ink free agents Ted Lilly and Gil Meche fell through.

Towers, Janssen, Marcum and McGowan all started games for the Blue Jays last season.

Toronto's top three starters are Roy Halladay, A.J. Burnett and Gustavo Chacin.

"If there's one thing this game teaches you, it's that you can never have enough pitching, enough depth," Ricciardi said. "We know we're going to need more than five starters."

Ohka, 31, spent last season with the Milwaukee Brewers, finishing 4-5 with a 4.85 earned-run average in 18 starts.

But his effectiveness was limited by injuries.

Ohka was sidelined for several months with a partially torn rotator cuff in his pitching arm and missed the last few weeks of the season with a right strained hamstring.

Ohka is 48-58 with a 4.04 ERA in 174 career games (162 starts) with the Boston Red Sox, Montreal Expos, Washington Nationals and Brewers.

He has reached the double-digit wins plateau three times in the majors.

Ohka's finest season came in 2002, when he went 13-8 with a 3.18 ERA in 32 appearances for the Expos.

With files from the Canadian Press