With recent comments about his ability to play a full season, the Toronto Blue Jays need to proceed as if Devon Travis never will
Full disclosure: This is not enjoyable to write. Not. At. All. You would be hard pressed to find a bigger fan of Devon Travis than this guy. The Toronto Blue Jays would be so good if Devon Travis were regularly in the lineup. But, there is the issue: he never is. While it is too easy to throw a label of “injury prone” on any athlete, Travis just might be the first person in history for which the label may be 100% accurate. And, if Toronto is going to compete in 2018, they will have to address their dependence on the 26 year old Floridian.
After the Blue Jays traded Anthony Gose to Detroit, no one really knew what to expect from the second baseman that came the other way. But, it didn’t take long for fans, and the front office) to fall in love with the bat Travis brings as well as the sunny, happy disposition. Heck, even his glove turned out to be a pleasant turn of events.
But, the injury bug found a pleasant host in Travis. And, every time an injury came up, whether his shoulder or his knee, it always seemed to reveal a larger hardware issue that surprised everyone. It is for that reason that manager, John Gibbons told Sportsnet’s Jeff Blair that even doctors are not convinced Devon Travis can be 100% healthy for a full season, which certainly seems to make Travis the quintessential “injury prone” player. You never hear that about an athlete. Yikes!
We knew that GM, Ross Atkins, had some work to do figure out what he’s going to do with the middle infield this winter. Troy Tulowitzki always seems to need time on the DL for different ailments, some of which, like rolling his ankle, can’t be avoided. So depth up the middle of the diamond is a major priority. If it isn’t, then we’ll be left watching Ryan Goins make another 140 starts, which is not exactly a recipe for competing in the AL East. With the recent commentary on Travis, dealing with second base has to be bumped as close to the front of the line as possible.
In order to fully commit to a legit playoff run in 2018, a regular, consistent, effective option needs to be used at second base. Goins stepping in at shortstop on occasion, or even for a few weeks is more palatable when you don’t have to worry about who his double play partner will be. Right now, there is a lot of worry. Devon Travis cannot be seen as the “go to option”. In fact, how much he can contribute is in serious question. So, it would behoove the club to simply operate as if he won’t contribute at all.
That means they will have to at least explore the free agent market, which features names like Brandon Phillips (36 yrs old), Neil Walker (32) and Jed Lowrie (33). All of these would cost a specific amount – think the $10M ballpark – that the Blue Jays would have varying interest in taking on. Of course, they could explore the trade route, which might look something like: Ian Kinsler (currently 35 yrs old), Daniel Murphy (32), Brian Dozier (30) or D.J. LeMahieu (29), all of whom will be free agents the following winter. Obviously, the trade market could yield more options than just those with one year remaining with their club. How about Dee Gordon?
Whatever path the Blue Jays choose to explore, it will have to be one that does not include Devon Travis. They can’t have amount of trust in the idea of him returning for a significant amount of time. The so called “competitive window” may be closing on Toronto quicker than we care to admit, so they can’t afford to hold out hope that Travis is healthy for any length of time. It would be a massive relief if he were. But, if doctors are telling you it isn’t likely, you might want to listen.
If he proves them wrong and that he can remain healthy for an extended period of time, that is a bonus. Trying to figure out where he fits into the lineup, etc would definitely cause Gibby some form of headache, but you can bet it is one he would gladly take. In short, the Blue Jays need to move forward as if Devon Travis will not take the field and hope that he does. They can’t move forward hoping he does and trying to scramble if he can’t.
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