Jack Cust’s hopes of returning to the major leagues now rest with the Toronto Blue Jays.
General manager Alex Anthopoulos reportedly has signed the designated hitter to a minor league deal. The 33-year-old will report to AAA Las Vegas after the New York Yankees cut Cust loose on Wednesday.
Cust, who can also play a corner outfield spot, posted a .249 batting average, 20 home runs and .400 on-base percentage in 127 plate appearances with the Yankees’ AAA affiliate in Scranton Wilkes-Barre, Pa., this season.
Despite his production and power, the left-handed hitting Cust was considered a longshot to appear in a Yankees uniform this season, given the team’s options at DH including Raul Ibanez, Andruw Jones and Casey McGehee.
“I know I can help a big-league team with my bat and my ability to create runs,” Cust, who drew 81 walks with Scranton Wilkes-Barre, told Star-Ledger NJ.com in New Jersey last month. “I want to play in the big leagues again.
“I had one bad year up there. Last year in Seattle [.213, three homers in 67 games]. Toughest place to hit in the major leagues. And it wasn’t a full season.”
In 2009, Cust hit .240 in 149 games with the Oakland Athletics while adding 25 homers and 70 runs batted in. He slugged 33 homers the previous campaign and has played parts of 10 seasons in the majors with six teams.
Perhaps Anthopoulos knows something about Cust others do not, but chances are he wanted someone with major league experience to call upon if the Blue Jays’ injury woes continue. The loss of Travis Snider and Eric Thames through trades earlier this week coupled with injuries to Adam Lind, J.P. Arencibia, Colby Rasmus and Brett Lawrie forced Anthopoulos to deplete the Las Vegas lineup by summoning Yan Gomes, Moises Sierra, Anthony Gose and Adeiny Hechavarria.
“I think, with my numbers in the big leagues, and what I’ve done, there should be another opportunity,” Cust said in July. “I sometimes wonder if some people even noticed what I did in Oakland, because it’s on the West Coast and it’s not a big market. But I did well, and I think I can still do that."