The Toronto Blue Jays are in the middle of a rebuild that is seeing young infielders excel, which puts Devon Travis in a tenuous position
On the one hand, the Toronto Blue Jays are a bad team. On the other, they are showing some good, young talent that makes you kind of drool over what their lineup could look like in 2 or 3 years. With Vladimir Guerrero Jr.highlighting a group that includes Cavan Biggio, Danny Jansen, Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and Bo Bichette, the future looks very bright. Because of this I can’t help but look ahead to who will be joining this cast of youngsters.
That led me to Devon Travis – not that my mind is far from him in the first place – and where he could be in a few years. He is set to become a free agent in 2021, which is an interesting conversation in and of itself. One has to think that being on the wrong side of 30 and a history of being on the IL more than off it, his price tag is likely minimal. Heck, his arbitration case this winter mightn’t be very strong. He’s currently making $1.95M and hasn’t played a game all year. It’s hard to imagine he’d cost the Blue Jays that much in the 2020 season, if they decide to keep him around.
Which brings us to the real question for Toronto’s front office. With all of the talent all but cementing themselves in the plans for the future, what should, could, would the Blue Jays do about Devon Travis?
On the most recent episode of the Jays From the Couch Radio podcast, Ryan Mueller mentioned the idea of the club not tendering Travis a contract. Of course, after the pain in my heart subsided, it was worth considering. Is there a need to pay whatever Travis would claim in arbitration? Mueller also wonders if Travis could be the next Eric Sogard bench type guy. Sure, it’s possible. Toronto could use his bat, if it even has anything left in it. If you’ll recall, in the last stint of regular playing time (103 games in 2018), he slashed .232/.275/.381. It was a far cry from the glimpses we’ve seen from him in the past. That said, maybe his bat isn’t an everyday one, but he could be decent in a bench role…maybe.
And, that might be about all Travis can hope for if he is kept in Toronto. You can bet that at some point next season (if not sooner, he says as if service time manipulation doesn’t happen), Bichette will be the everyday shortstop, Biggio looks like the regular guy at the keystone position, which put Travis on the outside looking in. That may just be fine for him, given that no one knows just how many games he’ll actually be able to play anyway. As well, we all know that injuries happen, which open doors for others. Maybe Travis can be kept around on the bench and fill in should someone get hurt.
If Toronto is going to do that, it might make more sense to non-tender him and let him test the free agency market. As already stated, the cost of obtaining Travis on the open market can’t be that high at all. Maybe Toronto risks him signing elsewhere and brings him back on a minor league deal. No risk, really. The flip side of that is that next season, the Blue Jays will have more ‘free’ money with expensive contracts coming off the books. Maybe they’re OK with going to arbitration in the hopes of tapping into what could be with Travis.
We’re having this conversation in the middle of July of 2019 with a lot more time left before the club has to make any kind of decision on the future of Devon Travis. They need him healthy first. And, as of June 29, he had begun some “light baseball work“. Assuming he doesn’t suffer any setbacks, which are would not be shocking at all, maybe Travis makes an appearance with the club before this season ends. That would provide management an opportunity to see where he fits in and what he has left to offer. That would help them make a decision.
Regardless, something is gonna give, here. Travis has to recover and show he can compete. If he can’t, his time in Toronto is short. If he can, a decision about if, and how, the Toronto Blue Jays keep him has to be made. The fact that it has come to this for Travis is a hard pill to swallow, but here we are. No one is rooting for him more than me, but things don’t look good for him.
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Shaun Doyle is a long time Blue Jays fan and writer! He decided to put those things together and create Jays From the Couch. Shaun is the host of Jays From the Couch Radio, which is highly ranked in iTunes, and he has appeared on TV and radio spots.