With the holidays approaching, Jays From the Couch looks at what options remain for the Toronto Blue Jays & their outfield shopping
The Toronto Blue Jays have gone shopping to fill their needs in the outfield. We’ve seen them make an offer to Dexter Fowler before he decided to take his talents to St Louis. They’ve signed Steve Pearce, who can play the outfield as well as a couple infield positions. They have money to spend. And, they’ve been trying. Given the cost of trading for an impactful outfielder (see Adam Eaton and the ransom the Nationals paid), combined with the fact that there is an unknown amount of comfort in providing everyday at bats to the current ‘in house’ options, we can still expect that the club would still be leaning toward bringing in someone from the free agent class.
So, what’s out there? Thanks to the handy list from MLBTR, we see several outfield options still available, all with varying degrees of excitement. Admittedly, after Fowler, these options don’t carry the same amount of appeal. But, when you miss out on Plan A or B, you go with Plan C or D….or Y or Z. Let’s look at some of the options still available. At the end, let us know who you’d like to add in our poll.
An old Friend
Michael Saunders is still on the market. After a 2nd half like he had in 2016, you can see why. He hit .178 and had nearly twice as many strikeouts (65) as he did hits (33). Now, he did hit 8 HR, but no one has been looking to that to rush him to a deal. If his season were looked at as a whole, his .253/.338/.478 and 24 HR would certainly be appealing. He also hit .275 against left handed pitching. As well, he played left field reasonably. He isn’t a Gold Glove outfielder, but he is serviceable.
The issue is that Saunders’ first half- the part that earned him an All Star appearance- is now a distant memory. What lingers is the 28.1% whiff rate and what could be viewed as a shadow of what he is capable of. And, that is what any team that signs him would be banking on. He has power. He strikes out. But, he is an everyday outfielder. Given his stock right now, the 30 yr old just might be an affordable option.
An Even Older Friend
Colby Rasmus is another bat available from the left side of the plate. But, like Saunders, he represents some mighty swing and miss potential. His 29% mark from last season is right about normal for him. But, fans will certainly remember his 33% from 2014. With the strike outs, come some power potential. He’s hit double digits in home runes every year since he came to the big leagues in 2009. While he might frustrate with the strike outs, Rasmus won’t disappoint in the outfield. He put up solid numbers there in 2016. He was worth 20 DRS and a UZR/150 of 31. The Astros likely regret offering him a qualifying offer at the end of the 2015 season, but you can bet he’d be available for much less than that amount.
Yet another old friend
Ben Revere is younger (28) than the two above, but he is also a lefty bat. Blue Jays fans will remember him fondly as a member of the 2015 postseason run. They will also point to the fact that Revere can be used as a leadoff hitter, something the club seems to be currently lacking. Or, maybe we remember him as what we lost to bring in Drew Storen. It is for these reasons that some folks would be quick to bring him back to Toronto.
But, that fondness might be a tad misplaced. Revere seemed rather good during his Blue Jays tenure, but his .319 average and his .354 OBP were actually above his career marks of .285 and .320. Last season, with the Nationals, Revere hit just .217 with an OBP of .260. Granted, that is well below his career mark. He will not bring the power of the above two. Instead, he brings speed (7.7 Spd via Fangraphs) and contact (91.6%). These would be the tools the club would be considering in bringing Revere aboard. His defense netted 2 DRS and a UZR.150 of 0.9. Considering everything he presents, the club would be better off using that money elsewhere and giving Dalton Pompey– who offers similar talents- a shot in the outfield.
An Old Foe
Mark Trumbo is one of the bigger bats still left on the open market. Teams might still be shying away from him since he has a draft pick attached to him thanks to rejecting a qualifying offer. But, the 30 yr old hit 47 bombs last year, so he would certainly be a welcome addition. Heck, it would be nice having him hit for the Blue Jays, rather than against them. But, like Saunders and Rasmus, you would have to sit through a healthy diet of strike outs. His 25.5% rate last season is right around his career average, so it is what you’re going to get. Some might be willing to deal with that if he continues to launch shots to LF in Rogers Centre.
But, you would also have to love with Trumbo playing the outfield. With the DH spot firmly filled by Kendrys Morales, the outfield would be the only spot for Trumbo. That is unless, the Blue Jays would consider flipping Steve Pearce to the outfield and using Trumbo at first base. He played just 37 innings at 1B last season, but has been fairly solid there in the past. It is the outfield that has been the real issue. Last season, he put up -11 DRS and -12.5 UZR.150 in the outfield, which primarily came in RF.
The real difficulty in signing Trumbo is that the Blue Jays are not likely to surrender a draft pick to sign a guy who’s best position (DH) is already full. The only way they would consider Trumbo is if they are willing to live with a righty bat that strikes out a lot and doesn’t play great defense, but will provide steady power.
The Best Choice
Brandon Moss just might be the best choice available for the Blue Jays. After sifting through the above options, Moss starts to look pretty good. He is coming off a season where he hit 28 HR in St Louis. He plays rather well at first base, but even better in the outfield. His total DRS of 3 and UZR/150 of 14.1 as an outfielder are very appealing. His numbers at 1B are also good enough that he could be played there also. He might be a bat to try and squeeze into the lineup to combine with Pearce. When one plays outfield, the other could play first.
That is, of course, if you can live with his 30.4% K rate. His 2016 OBP of .300 is not exactly sexy. But, as you can see, at this point in the offseason, the more complete guys are just not available. In an ideal situation, the Blue Jays would not have to give everyday at bats to someone who strikes out so much. They struck out 1362 times last season, which they’d likely look to improve on. But, beggars can’t be choosers and Moss might represent versatility and power the Blue Jays would benefit from. Did we mention he’s a lefty?
Of course, should any of these options not pan out, or simply cost more than they’re worth (according to Ross Atkins), there are other options available. Coco Crisp, Rajai Davis, Desmond Jennings, Nolan Reimold all represent varying degrees of outfield help. Heck, even Josh Hamilton is out there. But, if it’s gotten to that point, it just might be better to figure out which combination of internal options like Melvin Upton Jr. Ezequiel Carrera and Pompey works.
If the Blue Jays are going to look outside the organization for help, there are some options available to them left on the open market. None of them are perfect. But, the prefect players either never hit the open market when they’re at peak perfection (see Mike Trout) or coast way too damn much when they do (see Bryce Harper in the future). For the Toronto Blue Jays, at this point in the offseason, they will have to pay for someone who offers a bit of ‘this’, while living with the little bit of ‘that’ that comes with it.
*Featured Image Credit: Bliss Nogueira at blissphoto.ca
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