blue jays hot stove

The Blue Jays & A Conforto Fit

The Toronto Blue Jays are looking for a lefty bat and free agent Michael Conforto could help them, but is there a fit?


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The Toronto Blue Jays are a very right handed heavy lineup. And, while the right handedness has created a rather frightening lineup, they have been said to be looking for a left handed bat to balance things out. While some people may be dreaming on a bat like that of Freddie Freeman, they should probably wake up because that is highly unlikely. However, free agent Michael Conforto could be a more realistic target.

 

Standard Batting
Year Age Tm G PA R H 2B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS Awards
2015 22 NYM 56 194 30 47 14 9 26 0 17 39 .270 .335 .506 .841
2016 23 NYM 109 348 38 67 21 12 42 2 36 89 .220 .310 .414 .725
2017 24 NYM 109 440 72 104 20 27 68 2 57 113 .279 .384 .555 .939 AS
2018 25 NYM 153 638 78 132 25 28 82 3 84 159 .243 .350 .448 .797
2019 26 NYM 151 648 90 141 29 33 92 7 84 149 .257 .363 .494 .856
2020 27 NYM 54 233 40 65 12 9 31 3 24 57 .322 .412 .515 .927
2021 28 NYM 125 479 52 94 20 14 55 1 59 104 .232 .344 .384 .729
7 Yr 7 Yr 7 Yr 757 2980 400 650 141 132 396 18 361 710 .255 .356 .468 .824
162 162 162 162 638 86 139 30 28 85 4 77 152 .255 .356 .468 .824
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 1/10/2022.

 

Conforto will be 29 when the 2022 season begins (whenever the lockout ends) and is coming off a season that could be considered below his standards. He hit 14 HR while slashing .232/.344/.384 while putting up a wRC+ of 106 and 0.8 fWAR. All of these marks are below his career average. What stands out is the dip in power we saw from him as evidenced by .153 ISO being 60 points lower than his career mark. Looking at his Statcast numbers, we see that he was simply not ‘squaring’ the ball up as he has in the past: Barrel%: 9.2% (lowest of his career), Sweet Spot%: 32.9% (lowest of his career). Perhaps some minor tinkering can get him back on track, back to his 2020 form. He’s projected to bounce back to 25 HR, 121 wRC+. That coming from the left side of the plate is tough to dismiss.

 

Playing mostly right field for the last two seasons, Conforto has put up -4 DRS and 1 OAA. So, he won’t win any Gold Gloves, but he could be a solid contributor. For comparison, Teoscar Hernandez put up -2 OAA and -2 DRS in right field last year. So, if you’re OK with Hernandez in right, you should be OK with Conforto.

 

That said, the fit part of this is really the challenge. There is no doubt he can perform, but how does he fit with what the Blue Jays currently have in house. The obvious answer, or at least the first one that comes to mind, is to deal Randal Grichuk. His last 2-3 season have been somewhat of a disappointment at the plate and Conforto would certainly be an upgrade. Firstly, the issue is that Toronto would need to find someone in need of an outfielder, but also someone who perhaps has another higher end contract they no longer have a fit for. That’s not an easy task. Secondly, removing Grichuk removes any option of a back up center fielder when if George Springer goes down for any length of time. Sure Teoscar can fill in now and then, but would the Blue Jays trust him in that position over a longer stint? Would you?

 

Another solution might be to use the incredible financial value that comes with the Lourdes Gurriel Jr.contract to land some pitching or a third baseman. Certainly, any team in baseball would love to have the talent that Gurriel brings at the cost the Blue Jays are paying him ($4.5M in 2022 and $5.4M in 2023). However, would Toronto want to give up the talent and potential production from Gurriel? There are many fans who would hate to see that happen. Realistically, though, you’d be getting a bit more production from Conforto and the production of whatever they get by trading Gurriel, so it could make sense if Toronto is willing to spend more in the short to medium term.

 

The finances would certainly be a tough pill to swallow if MLBTR is correct in their prediction that Conforto could see a one year $20M deal this offseason. Toronto would be adding ~$15M if they traded Gurriel AND whatever they’d be paying the player they get back in that deal. Sure, it’s a short term problem that can easily be accepted. That is until you consider that they’d also be giving away a rather cheap year of Gurriel in 2023 and losing Conforto when he walks. Of course, that presumes MLBTR is correct in their prediction, but it does paint a bit of an uncomfortable financial scenario for the Blue Jays.

 

Adding Conforto would create a crowd in the outfield, which only makes sense if another outfielder is traded. Of course, the Blue Jays could simply look to add as much talent as they can and figure out playing time along the way, which is something Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi said when I chatted with him on the latest episode of our podcast. And, if it led to a championship, I’m sure folks would get over losing whomever they had to.

 

However, on the issue of signing Michael Conforto, it doesn’t feel like an obvious fit. A deal like this would need to depend on other things happening, which is obviously something the Blue Jays front office would have considered. But, as we sit here today, I’d have to say there isn’t an obvious fit, or in other words: Con-fit-no.

 

 

 

 

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Shaun Doyle

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.