Toronto Blue Jays Outfield Options for 2018

Jays From the Couch breaks down a potential outfield for the Toronto Blue Jays in 2018

Anthony Alford fouls off a pitch versus the Syracuse Salt Potatoes.

 

Chances are, you’ve been hearing a lot about the Blue Jays and potential outfielders on the market already this offseason. While there are option available, piecing together a Blue Jays outfield in 2018 while maintaining bench depth and versatility might be a bit more complicated than it seems.

 

There wasn’t much production to speak of coming from the Blue Jays outfield in 2017, with Kevin Pillar, Ezequiel Carrera, Steve Pearce and Jose Bautista combining for a slash and production line that’s really not worth doing the simple addition. The defense was fine, even with Carrera forgetting how long his arms are and perhaps struggling mightily with depth perception at times. In the end, it was underwhelming at best, though with most of the team in the infirmary by mid-summer, we did get to see the debuts of Anthony Alford and Dwight Smith Jr., as well as Teoscar Hernandez as a September call-up.

 

With Bautista on his way out of town (goodbye, old friend), Teoscar Hernandez should see most of the playing time in right field, with Kevin Pillar in center field and…something in left field. The Blue Jays could seek an upgrade in LF over Steve Pearce and Ezequiel Carrera via free agency or trade, or they could look to up their production in-house.

 

We’ll lay a few options out right here.

 

Free Agents

 

Lorenzo Cain

Since the Blue Jays lost to the Royals in the 2015 ALCS, and probably quite a bit before then – Blue Jays fans have longed for a dynamic outfielder that can hit atop the lineup, swipe a few bases, and show off power. Lorenzo Cain is probably the second-best outfielder available in 2018 (with JD Martinez falling wayyyy out of the Blue Jays’ budget) and his fit in Toronto is obvious.

 

He does, however, have a Qualifying Offer attached to any contract he signs, which would require the Jays to punt a draft pick somewhere in the second round. With this front office, it seems unlikely they’d lose out on cheap, controllable lottery tickets rather than spend over $100 million on a free agent who isn’t getting any younger or any better.

 

Rajai Davis

Rajai Davis held down left field in Toronto from 2011 to 2013 – albeit with some mediocrity – and has never been even a league average OF. He does, however, provide some running ability, which he’s shown off on a national stage over the past couple years playing for playoff teams. This season he stole 29 bases at the age of 36 and managed a 0.0 fWAR.

 

Standard Batting
Year Age Tm PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+ TB HBP
2011 30 TOR 338 320 44 76 21 6 1 29 34 11 15 63 .238 .273 .350 .623 67 112 1
2012 31 TOR 487 447 64 115 24 3 8 43 46 13 29 102 .257 .309 .378 .687 86 169 6
2013 32 TOR 360 331 49 86 16 2 6 24 45 6 21 67 .260 .312 .375 .687 88 124 5
2014 33 DET 494 461 64 130 27 2 8 51 36 11 22 75 .282 .320 .401 .721 103 185 5
2015 34 DET 370 341 55 88 16 11 8 30 18 8 22 76 .258 .306 .440 .746 103 150 3
2016 35 CLE 495 454 74 113 23 2 12 48 43 6 33 106 .249 .306 .388 .693 80 176 5
2017 36 TOT 366 336 56 79 19 2 5 20 29 7 27 83 .235 .293 .348 .641 74 117 1
2017 36 OAK 328 300 49 70 17 2 5 18 26 6 26 70 .233 .294 .353 .647 76 106 0
2017 36 BOS 38 36 7 9 2 0 0 2 3 1 1 13 .250 .289 .306 .595 57 11 1
12 Y 12 Y 12 Y 4365 4023 600 1062 218 42 60 373 394 100 255 791 .264 .313 .384 .696 88 1544 42
162 162 162 537 494 74 131 27 5 7 46 48 12 31 97 .264 .313 .384 .696 88 190 5
PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+ TB HBP
TOR TOR TOR 1185 1098 157 277 61 11 15 96 125 30 65 232 .252 .299 .369 .668 81 405 12
DET DET DET 864 802 119 218 43 13 16 81 54 19 44 151 .272 .314 .418 .732 103 335 8
CLE CLE CLE 495 454 74 113 23 2 12 48 43 6 33 106 .249 .306 .388 .693 80 176 5
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/10/2017.

 

I’m not too ashamed to admit I wrote most of this before looking at his stats, which are…bad. Still, he can play a decent enough outfield…okay nevermind. Davis provides no real improvement for the Blue Jays in the outfield. I feel like I needed to say that out loud for myself and other who have wished for a reunion and anyone to steal a base over the last couple seasons.

 

Carlos Gonzalez

Carlos Gonzalez had a pretty lousy season in 2017, helped in part by a significant drop in ISO (.207 to .192) and BABIP (.346 to .318). His defense retreated a little bit more, he struck out a 2% higher rate and he showed a huge deterioration in Fangraphs’ baserunning metrics. In theory, he fits right into the 2017 Blue Jays lineup.

 

Gonzalez will likely be seeking a one-year deal to build up his value after after a poor campaign, and hitting fifth or sixth in the Blue Jays lineup…might be a match for both the player and team. Gonzalez would add a lefty bat to balance a skilled right side, and maybe having Anthony Alford or Kevin Pillar playing along side him will push his glove out of sight. A rebound year in the friendly confines of the American League East (inbefore: COOOOOORS) might be just what he needs.

 

Cameron Maybin

Fresh off winning a World Series in 2018, Cameron Maybin will be searching for a new home this offseason. There aren’t a whole lot of stats that jump off the page at you from Maybin aside from his 33 stolen bases, but there remains no real detractor to his skill set, either. He’ll hit a couple home runs, but not a lot, steal some bases, but slow down in the coming years, and he’ll get on-base at a 32% rate. The 30-year old could look pretty good atop the Blue Jays lineup.

 

He can also play a serviceable outfield, possibly even a very good left field, with a UZR/150 of 1.3 posted in 913 ourtfield innings in 2017.

 

Howie Kendrick

Howie Kendrick showed in 2017 that he could still play, and put in a solid season with the Washington Nationals. His 1.4 bWAR season with a 119 OPS+ came after his age-34 season, so while he’s still swinging it, he’s also not getting any younger.

 

Standard Batting
Year Age Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+ HBP
2017 33 TOT 91 334 305 40 96 16 3 9 41 12 5 22 68 .315 .368 .475 .844 119 5
2017 33 PHI 39 156 141 16 48 8 1 2 16 8 3 11 30 .340 .397 .454 .851 127 3
2017 33 WSN 52 178 164 24 48 8 2 7 25 4 2 11 38 .293 .343 .494 .837 113 2
12 Y 12 Y 12 Y 1435 5791 5373 703 1561 313 37 104 636 123 45 310 1007 .291 .334 .421 .755 107 55
162 162 162 162 654 607 79 176 35 4 12 72 14 5 35 114 .291 .334 .421 .755 107 6
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/10/2017.

 

The thing with Kendrick, though, is that at this point in his career, he can play a significant role as a utility player, earning time in 2017 in the outfield (54 games), first base (four games) and second base (15 games.) Right now, that bench flexibility is something the Blue Jays are lacking – and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. represents the team’s closest approximation to it, and he’s likely a year away from a full-time gig. In short, Kendrick fills two needs on the Blue Jays roster.

 

Jay Bruce

No.

 

Getting Even More Creative – The Trade Market

 

There’s plenty of options available on the trade market, but the question there is always what it’s going to cost a team in terms of talented assets. As of right now, the entire Miami Marlins outfield is up for trade, with every Marlins outfielder fitting seamlessly into a Blue Jays lineup solely on the fact that they’re all better than the current Jays outfield.

 

Take your pick: Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich or Marcell Ozuna. You can’t lose in terms of talent coming back, but is it the right time to blow up the farm system that the new regime has spent the last two years reassembling? With this front office, that answer is almost certainly ‘no.’

 

There are other trade options out there – the St. Louis Cardinals certainly come to mind – but trade speculation on the part of those of us detached from the game is mostly meaningless. While we can go back and forth and agree with other fans and bloggers on who needs what and where a match might come to be – we’re almost always wrong when it comes down to the final details.

 

Getting Logical

 

Teoscar Hernandez, Anthony Alford, Kevin Pillar and Dwight Smith Jr.

Somehow, the above organization of the Blue Jays outfield in 2018 is rarely discussed. This time of year, we’re so absorbed with players from other organizations becoming available for the first time, that we manage to ignore what’s right in front of us, and that’s the pile of decent outfielders already within the upper echelon of the Blue Jays organization.

 

The above combination likely isn’t going to hit much, but if the lineup is healthy (and I know, that’s a tremendous IF), the Jays might be able to skirt through 2018 with a young outfield getting a feel for the MLB game – which they’ll have to do eventually. Chances are, they won’t be terribly competitive in 2018, so let these guys see if they can figure it out, and hit the free agent market hard after the 2018 World Series.

 

This goes without mentioning Ezequiel Carrera, who’s arbitration-eligible through 2019. Or Dalton Pompey, who might never recover from an endless string of injuries. Or a breakout from Lourdes Gurriel Jr. once he finally adjust to time off an the continental game.

 

There’s an almost endless output of situations for this outfield in 2018. And if you’re up for a conversation, lay out your demands for the 2018 Blue Jays outfield in the comments section below.

 

 

 


*****
Head On Over To The JAYS FROM THE COUCH VS ALS STORE And Get Some Great Swag That You Will Look Great In And Feel Great About.
You Can Also Head To Our JAYS FROM THE COUCH VS ALS FUNDRAISING PAGE To Make A Tex Deductible Donation That Goes Directly To ALS Canada.
*****

 

 

 

Thank You For Visiting Jays From The Couch! Check Us Out On Twitter @JAYSFROMCOUCH And INSTAGRAM. Like Us On FACEBOOK. Be Sure To Catch The Latest From JAYS FROM THE COUCH RADIO And Subscribe To Our YOUTUBE CHANNEL!

 

 

 

*Featured Image Courtesy Of DaveMe Images. Prints Available For Purchase.

 

 

Roy’s earliest memories all involve baseball from the early 90’s and the Blue Jays dream teams. He became a Blue Jays fan while watching Carlos Delgado and Shawn Green evolve in Syracuse, NY at the run-down confines of MacArthur Stadium, nestled between highway and swamp. A lifelong baseball player, Roy still plays (P, C, 2B, 3B) in the 25+ Syracuse MSBL for the Liverpool Mets. He watches almost all games with his best buddy Sebastian, a five year old Pug, who could care less.

Roy-Z

Roy’s earliest memories all involve baseball from the early 90’s and the Blue Jays dream teams. He became a Blue Jays fan while watching Carlos Delgado and Shawn Green evolve in Syracuse, NY at the run-down confines of MacArthur Stadium, nestled between highway and swamp. A lifelong baseball player, Roy still plays (P, C, 2B, 3B) in the 25+ Syracuse MSBL for the Liverpool Mets. He watches almost all games with his best buddy Sebastian, a five year old Pug, who could care less.