TORONTO (AP) — Tanner Roark has to keep the ball down in order to succeed, especially in the AL East.
"Popups, they go out for home runs. It is what it is," Roark said with a laugh Wednesday after finalizing a $24 million, two-year contract with the Toronto Blue Jays. ""Don't hang a pitch or else it's going to go far. That goes for any league, any division."
A right-hander who turned 33 in October, Roark gets $12 million in each of the next two seasons.
He was 10-10 with a 4.35 ERA in 31 starts last season for Cincinnati and Oakland, which acquired him at the trade deadline. Roark is 74-64 with a 3.71 ERA over seven seasons, the first six with Washington.
Toronto, 67-95 last season, acquired right-hander Chase Anderson from Milwaukee last month.
"With the young core group of guys coming up and what we have at the big league level, maybe (I can) give some knowledge, teach them some things, answer any questions they want to know," he said. "I don't think I'm that old, but I'm one of the oldest guys on the team."
Roark said the Blue Jays were the first team to contact him this offseason. He reached the agreement after conversations with pitching coach Pete Walker and bullpen coach Matt Buschmann. Roark wanted to work with young catchers Danny Jansen and Reese McGuire.
"Tempo for me is key and last year both catchers were rated great defensively," Roark said.
He pitched a career-high 210 innings in 2016, going 16-10 with a 2.83 ERA. He has thrown at least 165 innings in four other seasons.
"I think what keeps me on the field is I work hard," Roark said. "It can be a long arduous season, repetitive travel-wise. The mental part of it can just crush you. But I think working hard and doing what you need to do to prepare yourself for every fifth day, that's the biggest thing. The stuff in between the starts is the real work and the fifth day is enjoyment of it all."