Toronto Blue Jays: The Internet Overreacts to Melvin Upton Jr. Trade


Some Toronto Blue Jays fans are concerned: Does the acquisition of Melvin Upton Jr. hurt Jose Bautista’s future market value? Who cares.



Everyone has an opinion, and the Internet allows people to share their opinions. On the whole, this is a positive thing – it fosters discussion, facilitates the exchange of information, and acts as a record of human interaction – but it isn’t all good. The internet has a negative side, too.


To nearly everyone’s regret, the Internet emboldens the ignoble, encourages the inelegant; it gives hope to the hopeless and direction to the directionless. In short, it acts as a sort of net for lost souls, collecting people who should probably be left adrift in their own panicked hyperbole. We can see this negative side of the Internet in some of the immediate reactions to the Toronto Blue Jays’ acquisition of Melvin Upton Jr.


First, there are the alarmist laments about next season. You know the ones – “Does this trade mean Michael Saunders is gone? What about Jose Bautista?” – but unless you own a working crystal ball, there’s little point in raising or answering these types of questions. They are essentially unanswerable until next season actually arrives.


All we can say for certain right now is that Upton remains under team control until 2017, which gives the Jays more room to manage roster decisions in the off-season. Everything else is pure speculation at this point albeit with varying degrees of plausibility.


It’s plausible to think one of Saunders or Bautista will be gone next season, but it’s also plausible to think both might be back. We won’t find the answer to this question in the Upton trade alone. Thus, instead of worrying about next season, it might be better to focus on this season. The Jays just made a legitimate move to improve their roster: find comfort in this.


Does Upton Jr. provide an upgrade in the outfield over Ezequiel Carrera and open up the possibility of playing Bautista elsewhere, improving the team as a whole? We can answer this question in the positive.


Another odd reading of the trade concerns its potential impact on Bautista’s future market value, especially among National League teams. Tackling the obvious question first, who does this even matter? The move isn’t about Bautista. It’s about improving the Jays and gunning for a championship this season.


Beyond that, I doubt two hypothetical months spent as the designated hitter will seriously hurt Bautista’s value. For one thing, other teams understand that he’s coming off a serious toe injury. They also understand the current makeup of the Jays’ lineup – why would you continue to play Bautista in right field when you have a better defensive option on the bench and can utilize Bautista instead at first base or as designated hitter? Other teams don’t necessarily have this luxury, and they accept that fact.


It should be added that deploying Bautista as DH for the next two months won’t negate his ability to play right field or first base come next season. He’ll still be able to play these two positions – the quality of his performance is another question – notwithstanding the sudden loss of a limb or two. If you’re concerned about how the move to DH might magnify his rather pedestrian defensive numbers in right field, that’s of you to care, but your concern is misplaced.


If Bautista’s defensive numbers are bad in right field, they’re bad in right field; that has nothing to do with him playing DH (I may be taking it for granted that everyone knows DH doesn’t take the field). NL teams, I trust, will understand this. Bautista is also quite the hitter if you’re unfamiliar with him; his offensive production more than compensates for his known defensive limitations. Teams will take a flyer on Bautista based on his career as a whole, not two months as the DH for a two-month period.


In other words, Bautista has a career 34.4 WAR rating for a reason. Any general manager, from the American League or the National League, who would overlook Bautista because he played two months at DH, coming off a toe injury, towards the end of the season, in a tight playoff race, on a team full of outfield depth, is unworthy of his position.


Will playing Bautista at DH hurt his market value? No. Has Bautista’s own defensive limitations hurt his market value? Yes. It’s pretty straightforward.


Unfortunately, the Internet isn’t always so straightforward. Sometimes passion overtakes reason, panic displaces calmness. Consider it the Trump factor.





Featured Image Credit: C Stem- JFtC




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