The Toronto Blue Jays acquired Mallex Smith, which may not have been necessary if they could have held on to Jonathan Davis
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The Toronto Blue Jays acquired Mallex Smith from Cincinnati this week, adding some potential speed to their system. Because Smith was a minor league deal and hadn’t seen the big leagues this season, he could be traded. On the surface, it seems like a depth move, particularly in light of George Sringer’s subsequent knee injury. However, it may not have been necessary had the Blue Jays been able to work their roster differently.
Smith brings a light bat, but that doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter that he hit just .173 last season or that he hit .227 before that. What does matter is that he led the majors in stolen bases in 2019 with 46 after stealing 40 the year before.
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The Blue Jays do not really have a true speedster on their roster. Remember how valuable Dalton Pompey was during the 2015 run? Are you old enough to remember the addition of Rickey Henderson? Remember how exciting Rajai Davis was? It’s been a while since Toronto has been able to have someone this dangerous on the base paths. Perhaps, their thinking is that he can be a late/post season weapon. Rosters expand in September and games mean that much more to Toronto since they’re in a fight for their postseason lives. Every base helps.
As recently as 2019, Smith put up excellent defensive numbers as well. According to Statcast, he put up 6 OAA in CF and 4 in RF that year. The shortened 2020 saw those numbers decline, if you put stock in the numbers from last year. So, with Springer out, Smith very well could provide some solid defense in an outfield where Randal Grichuk is arguably the best defender remaining.
This is where Jonathan Davis would have been huge for Toronto. After riding the AAA Roller Coaster this season, the Blue Jays eventually DFA’d Davis and the New York Yankees promptly claimed him. In Davis, the Blue Jays had someone who could steal bases and play great defense in the outfield. Essentially, he was what Mallex Smith might be. But, he’s now in the Yankees organization and the Blue Jays lost out.
If we’re being honest, Davis slipping through the fingers of Toronto’s front office really isn’t as much a blunder as it is the result of having so many pitching injuries and poor performances. The revolving door that has been the Blue Jays’ pitching staff meant that someone in a position like Davis was would be the odd man out, so to speak.
Now, the argument can be made (?) that Ross Atkins & Co could have avoided this type of situation by properly constructing a pitching staff. Injuries are a fact of the game and they should have been able to weather the storm. I’m not completely sold on this as they entered the 2021 season with a nice group of arms, one that had depth they could be proud of. As well, even if injuries run amok with a roster, guys like Davis will always be the victims. He has not established himself as an everyday major leaguer and finds himself…for lack of a better word…expendable.
If Toronto’s season had gone differently, whether their roster construction is to blame, or not, we may still be seeing Jonathan Davis in a Blue Jays’ uniform and there wouldn’t have been a need to bring in someone that is basically just like him in Mallex Smith. However, things happen and Atkins & Co has tried to find themselves a piece like the one that was taken from them by the Yankees. Time will tell if the attempt at fixing the situation will pay off.
*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.