NEW ORLEANS - A role never available to him with the Diamondbacks convinced Miguel Batista on Friday to accept a three-year, $13.1 million deal from the Toronto Blue Jays.
The Jays see Batista, who last season led the D-Backs in innings pitched and wins and ranked 12th in the National League in ERA, as their No. 2 starter behind Cy Young Award winner Roy Halladay.
“That was important to him,” agent Martin Arburua said. “That's what they told him he would get a shot at, so he would start on a regular basis.”
Batista spent the past three seasons with Arizona, each time opening the season as a reliever and winding up in the rotation. He was 10-9 with a 3.54 ERA in 193 1/3 innings in 2003 and for hid D-Backs career went 29-26 with a 3.76 ERA, making 76 starts and 44 relief appearances.
Because of payroll restrictions, Arizona declined a $5 million option for 2004 and was unable to re-sign Batista. Toronto will pay Batista $3.6 million next year and $4.75 million in 2005 and 2006.
“They made a nice presentation,” Arburua said. “They really liked him. They pursued him. It wasn't like he was a second choice again.”
Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi cited the appeal of Batista's competitiveness as well as his talent.
“I think there's a little bit of a chip on his shoulder because he's been pushed back a little bit,” Ricciardi said. “And he welcomed the opportunity to pitch against the Red Sox and the Yankees.”
Arizona visits Toronto for interleague play June 11-13.