Don't Wait for the Offseason: The Toronto Blue Jays' 1st Big Splash
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There’s a good feeling in the air when it comes to the Toronto Blue Jays. Despite their sub-.500 record, most fans are enthusiastic. The Rogers Centre has had some good crowds, especially for a roof-closed April. And the Jays have played some fairly exciting baseball.
At this point, there have only been five games where the Jays haven’t won or at least brought the tying run to the plate in the bottom of the ninth.
There’s much ado about how GM Alex Anthopoulos is deftly handling the team. SI.com’s Jon Heyman has ranked the trading of Vernon Wells and the re-signing of Jose Bautista as the two most significant moves of the baseball offseason. AA is also receiving kudos for a rapid turnaround of the farm system and assembling a strong bullpen that has had to work more than any other team.
On the field, fans are treated to the Blue Jays newfound affinity for the stolen base, especially from center fielder Rajai Davis, who is turning walks into triples.
Yunel Escobar is flashing the leather like no other shortstop has in years and Bautista is crushing home runs at a higher rate than last year. He’s arguably the best player in baseball, right now.
Midway through May, they are now into the real meat of the season. They’ve completed two tough road trips, with a nice slate of upcoming home games. So, with the roof rolled back and the warm sun inspiring two 10-dollar beer purchases, the fans have been wondering, “What’s the first big splash going to be?”
The first two names to get thrown out are the biggest in next year’s free-agent pool: Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder. Both are legit stars who will command huge dollars and would look really pretty next to Bautista in the lineup. While the owner, Rogers, has plenty of cash, are they willing to dole out the $25 million per year to get them?
Next on the list would have to be Jose Reyes of the New York Mets. He, too, will attract major money. The cash-strapped Mets have a big decision to make. Do they deal him midseason and avoid losing him for nothing? Or, considering Carlos Beltran is coming off the books, do they offer him a contract extension?
After that, the pickings start to get slim. There’s an aging Beltran or J.D. Drew or Jorge Posada. Not bad, but they certainly don’t fit into Blue Jay plans. How about Conor Jackson? Or Cody Ross? Not really big splashes, are they?
I suggest they go back and talk to the Mets, but not for Reyes. Rather, the guy playing 40-feet to his right: David Wright.
The Mets would be smart to hang onto Reyes and build around him. He’s super-talented and just entering his prime years. To do this, the Mets are going to have to clear space somewhere else. Beltran’s expiring contract isn’t enough and Jason Bay’s contract isn’t going anywhere. Wright is ripe for trading.
Wright has tremendous numbers. He’s a career .302/.382/.512 hitter. He has averaged over 25 homers and over 100 RBI in five of the last six seasons. He's compiled 1,200 hits in a six-and-a-half-year career. He’s capable of stealing 20 (30 in the Jays system) bases. He’s a tremendous defender with two Gold Gloves. He’s got two Silver Sluggers and five All-Star appearances. He’s only 28 years old, and his contract is fair and affordable for the Jays.
He definitely counts as a big splash. So, what would it take to get him?
The Mets are already rumoured to be interested in Aaron Hill. So, let’s start there. A healthy Hill is also an All-Star with good power and a nice defensive skill set. He’d be a nice double-play complement for Reyes. Also, Hill’s contract options are relatively cheap.
Clearly, Hill isn’t enough. They Jays would have to ship a top-tier prospect or two along for the ride. I’m thinking Eric Thames or Brad Mills, maybe both. Jo-Jo Reyes is a piece that can be used, as well. I know you’re thinking that’s a ridiculous proposition. But, he’s not that bad of a pitcher and the Mets rotation is hideous. Jo-Jo is a definite upgrade.
So, let’s say the Jays land Wright. I know lots of you have already yelled at the screen, “What about Brett Lawrie?!” Fair question. The Jays are grooming him for third base. Well, the facts are that his defensive skills will never be great and he has a weak arm. The Blue Jays would be completely fine with moving him to left field.
Problem solved! Uh, not really.
What happens when Travis Snider returns? I say put him in center field. He’s deceptively quick and has a very strong arm. CF is a legitimate option.
What about Rajai Davis? Well, he’s going to have to be sacrificed. He is absolutely magic on the basepaths and is a treat to watch. But Snider is capable of 30 swipes, which isn’t in Davis‘ range, but still excellent.
This makes Snider/Lawrie/Wright a much better combination than Davis/Snider/Lawrie. Davis could even become part of the deal that brings Wright over.
David Wright would be a very big splash for the Jays. This deal could be done straightaway, giving the Jays enough firepower to play meaningful September baseball this year. The top six in the Jays lineup could be Escobar/Lawrie/Bautista/Wright/Lind/Snider. That’s fairly formidable consider all could hit 25 long balls.
I’d love to see this happen. What do you guys think?
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