Freddy Galvis is off to a great start for the Toronto Blue Jays, solidifying their infield situation
On January 29, 2019, the Blue Jays signed free agent SS Freddy Galvis to a one year contract with a club option for 2020. The move seemed odd at first. The Jays had already traded Aledmys Diaz, non-tendered Yangervis Solarte and released Troy Tulowitzki. What was the point of signing 29 year old Galvis? Wasn’t the upcoming season supposed to be about “letting the kids play” as they rebuild for the future?
This past off season, Jays’ management stated that one of their goals for 2019 was to improve upon team defence (a good goal for them to have, considering that their team defensive efficiency ratio in 2018 was .679 – second worst in all of MLB). Galvis had been a gold glove finalist in each of the previous three seasons, so signing him would likely help in that regard. Another plus with Galvis is his durability. He played in all 162 games in both 2017 and 2018 – going back to 2015 he had played in over 150 games each year.
Galvis was penciled in as the everyday shortstop to start the season, which meant that they would need to find places for Brandon Drury, Lourdes Gurriel Jr and Devon Travis to play and all of this before the anticipated arrival of Vlad Guerrero jr in MLB. Unfortunately the oft injured Travis had knee surgery in March and was placed on the 60 day DL on March 25th. Galvis’ durability was already welcome with his new organization.
Galvis who owns a career OPS of .668 has always been a glove first type of player. The Jays had to believe that anything they might get from him offensively on top of stabilizing the infield defence would be a bonus. To say that his hot start with the bat has been an unexpected bonus is an understatement. 12 games in to Toronto’s season, Galvis is batting .333 with a 1.022 OPS. In a season where most Jays’ hitters have gotten off to ice cold starts, the addition of Galvis has been a big plus.
Now before we get way ahead of ourselves, we need to remember that getting off to a hot start doesn’t necessarily guarantee that a player will have a good season. Take last year for example. Yangervis Solarte was one of the Jays’ best hitters in March/April last year with a .848 but by the end of the season his OPS had regressed almost 200 points to .655! It’s probably safe to assume that Galvis’ hitting will cool off at least somewhat as the season progresses. But so far so good for him as a Blue Jay.
There are other benefits as well. The March 27th trade of Kendrys Morales to the Oakland As may have opened up a roster spot and helped the Jays get younger and faster, but Morales was known as a leader and mentor to the younger players, especially Spanish speaking players. Galvis, a native of Venezuela can fill that void in the clubhouse. In fact, even prior to the signing, Galvis and Lourdes Gurriel jr had worked out together in the off season. Gurriel has talent but at times in his young MLB career his defence has been a work in progress, so having a proven strong defender to help learn from can only help him improve.
While Galvis may be keeping the seat warm until the organization deems Bo Bichette to be MLB ready, he has certainly been a bright spot in a dismal offensive season so far for the Jays. If he continues his strong performance, the Jays could decide to flip him to a contender at the trade deadline for valued prospects to continue their rebuild.
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