The Blue Jays are signing outfielder Wynton Bernard to a minor league deal, reports Robert Murray of FanSided (on Twitter). The 32-year-old will be in big league Spring Training as a non-roster invitee.
Bernard has spent over a decade in the professional ranks. Initially a 35th-round pick of the Padres in 2012, the Niagara product landed with the Tigers on a minor league deal a couple seasons later. He’s typically hit well enough in the minors to continue to find opportunities, landing subsequent depth roles with the Giants, Cubs and Rockies. He continued to bide his time in search of an MLB look.
At long last, he earned that desired call late last summer. Bernard had mashed at a .333/.387/.590 clip through 108 games with the Rox’s top affiliate in Albuquerque, connecting on 21 home runs and stealing 30 bases in 35 tries. The Rockies brought him up in mid-August, where he got some limited runtime in the outfield. He appeared in 12 MLB games, hitting .286/.286/.310 over his first 42 trips to the plate. Colorado ran him through outright waivers at the end of the year, sending him back to minor league free agency.
While it was a brief first MLB call, it no doubt served as some vindication for the San Diego native. Bernard’s 2022 showing was aided to some extent by the Pacific Coast League’s extremely hitter-friendly environment, but he’s typically performed at an above-average level throughout his time in the minors. He’s a career .289/.350/.424 minor league hitter, sporting a .273/.328/.435 mark through parts of six Triple-A campaigns.
Bernard is an excellent runner who’s capable of covering all three outfield spots. He’ll slot in behind Nathan Lukes — who was added to the 40-man roster at the start of the offseason — as a speed/defense depth outfielder. Bernard figures to open the season with Triple-A Buffalo. He still has two option years remaining, so the Jays would be able to shuttle him between Toronto and Buffalo if he claims a 40-man spot at any point.