"The Blue Jays, acting to solidify their middle-infield defense, have reached agreement with free-agent shortstop Royce Clayton on a one-year, $1.5 million contract, FOXSports.com has learned.
The deal, which is pending a physical, will enable the Jays to keep Aaron Hill at second base rather move him to shortstop. Second is Hill's stronger defensive position.
Clayton, 36, will be playing for his 10th major-league team and his sixth in the past six seasons. He began last season with the Nationals, then was traded to the Reds as part of a blockbuster deal in June.
Clayton's career on-base percentage is .313, and he has little power. However, the Jays should be formidable enough offensively after signing free-agent designated hitter Frank Thomas - presuming they keep center fielder Vernon Wells.
Clayton will provide veteran presence and stability, but no longer is an elite defender — he had the third-lowest zone rating among the 15 qualifying National League shortstops last season.
Zone rating is the percentage of balls fielded by a player in his typical defensive zone, as measured by STATS, Inc.
The team's next step is to sign a free-agent starting pitcher. Left-hander Ted Lilly and right-hander Gil Meche are among the Jays' targets.
The signing of Clayton removes one potential bidder for free-agent infielder Julio Lugo, who is drawing interest from the Red Sox, Cubs and Mets."