With key hitters set to return to the lineup, the Toronto Blue Jays may not have room to for Rowdy Tellez
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The Toronto Blue Jays look to be getting much needed offensive boosts in the near future. With George Springer making his much anticipated Blue Jays debut and Teoscar Hernandez set to follow shortly behind him, Toronto will have some roster spots to figure out. On the surface, it looks like a good problem to have, but any time there is a surplus of talent it means that someone of value has to go. Enter Rowdy Tellez…or, more to the point, exit Rowdy Tellez.
Given that both Springer and Hernandez are outfielders, the most obvious person to face a possible demotion is Jonathan Davis. The 28 yr old is hitting just .091 with a home run and a stolen base. He’s put up 1 DRS in limited playing time in the outfield. No one would be surprised to see Davis sent to the taxi squad. He does have an option remaining. However, the argument can be made that he is one of the better defenders Toronto has and could be a late inning substitution or a pinch runner. He brings some value in that context.
Next on the list is Santiago Espinal. With MiLB options remaining, the 26 year old utility man could find himself back with the taxi squad. But, it says here that that would be a mistake. Obviously, we’re looking at an early and small sample size, but Espinal is hitting .357 with a wRC+ of 123. To emphasize how unreliable that info is, he has a BB% of 0.0%, his OBP is the same as his average. He’s being helped out by a BABIP of .417. So, it would be foolish to suggest Espinal has hit his way onto this team.
Instead, he has earned a spot with his glove. He was asked to plug a hole at the hot corner with Cavan Biggio struggling defensively. And, anyone who has watched Espinal play third would have noticed a sense of calm and confidence wash over them. The eye test tells you that he is an upgrade and one that needs to stick around. An OAA of 1, 2 DRS and a UZR/150 of 33.6 tell me the eye test is correct. So, Espinal needs to stay.
Another option is Joe Panik. The 30 yr old signed a minor league deal this offseason and it turned into a $1.85M big league deal with him making the roster. Panik is hitting .286 thus far with his BB% also at 0.0%. Defensively, he has put up -3 OAA at third and 1 OAA at second. Some will point to his veteran presence and his versatility when looking for reasons to keep him around. The front office would likely agree and would not want to remove him from the roster.
However, Rowdy Tellez may not enjoy the same kind of loyalty. If you squint, you can see why Toronto may want to keep Panik. You’d need a special kind of glasses to see the same for Tellez. Offensively, Tellez represents a power bat from the left side of the plate. One presumes that with Springer and Hernandez back in the lineup, power will not exactly be a rare commodity. Would the Blue Jays really be willing to wait around for a homer or two? While they do, they have to put up with a .193 average and a wRC+ of 39.
Defensively, first base belongs to Vladimir Guerrero Jr. There is no way Tellez is a priority there. For a second, let’s remove Tellez from the conversation and ask who would be next in line to play first base. Biggio and Panik would be capable of filling in if a day or two is needed for Vlad. Now, returning to Rowdy, is it really worth keeping a spot for him to play 1B or DH on an occasional basis? The answer is no.
Of course, the team could look to keep Tellez and option a pitcher, but considering the revolving door that is the pitching staff, it would be a shock to see the club choose Tellez over pitching. That would be an error.
Keeping Rowdy Tellez on the roster over someone like Santiago Espinal would also be a grave mistake. Essentially, it would be sacrificing solid defense at a prime position for an occasional home run from the left side. PS: Joe Panik is also a lefty bat, as is Biggio. Moreover, if the Toronto Blue Jays are serious about winning and using their positional versatility to accomplish that, they cannot afford to clog roster spots with someone like Rowdy Tellez who is a 1B/DH.
Writing that last sentence was truly painful. Tellez is very much someone we want to see succeed. He is very much someone who I would love to see flourish in an everyday role. However, the truth, no matter how painful, is that this 2021 roster is not the place for him. The best case scenario is Toronto trades him as part of a package that brings some pitching help to the Blue Jays. That way, he can try and make the most of another opportunity.
*Featured Image Courtesy Of DaveMe Images. Prints Available For Purchase.
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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.