December 13 2016 02:45PM
Photo Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
It's December 13th and the outfielders currently on the Blue Jays' roster are Kevin Pillar, Melvin Upton, Ezequiel Carrera, Steve Pearce (if you really have to), and maybe Dalton Pompey.
This is... not a championship calibre group.
The club has talked about the need for at least one or two more outfielders, and that would certainly seem ideal given what's here.
Pillar is obviously a stalwart (though another 80 wRC+ season might change that).
Upton can play against left-handed pitching, but needs a platoon partner.
Pearce would be an obvious choice for that, but he'll be at first base against left-handers in place of Justin Smoak (and ultimately, I have little doubt, against a bunch of right-handers, too), and doesn't offer a whole lot with the glove anyway.
Carrera had a nice little season, and an especially nice playoff run (who could forget Zeke's Thunder?), but he's a left handed hitter who did most of his damage against lefties last year, which means he's not really a platoon guy (he hasn't hit right-handers well at all), or... well... anything we should be contemplating seeing significant time at the big league level. (Sorry, Zeke. We'll always have 2016).
Pompey is the guy who you'll hear people say deserves a chance, unfortunately that's almost entirely out of pure sentimentality. I'd love to see him force the issue myself, and I think he could be an asset, but though he's a switch hitter, he put up a paltry .246/.324/.311 slash line against left-handed pitching in Buffalo last year. That doesn't feel like it's going to translate well to the big leagues. His .281/.360/.373 from the other side is certainly better -- and better than Ben effing Revere, if you're really considering putting a guy like that in a corner (which you shouldn't be) -- but not exactly blowing the doors off, either.
If you want to contemplate trading Pillar for something and using Pompey and Upton as your platoon in centre, then we can talk. But with Pillar here I think you have to do better than putting those two in a corner.
And you still have to figure out what to do in the other corner.
One option might be making a trade for Andrew McCutchen, who is still very much on the block, and sure would look great here -- provided his abysmal 2016 was just a one-off disaster and not a harbinger of what's to come in the next two years of his contract. But it definitely doesn't feel like that's going to happen:
pirates received nice offer of prospects from mystery team for mccutchen but seeks MLB now or MLB ready players. so no go.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 13, 2016
If the Jays weren't the mystery team Heyman is talking about here, they certainly could have been. And they're just really not a fit with the Pirates for exactly the reason he says. The Jays have Rowdy Tellez in the high minors, but that's about it as far as potential impact prospects for 2017 go -- and Pittsburgh likes their young first baseman, Josh Bell. Pittsburgh also wants to move McCutchen because they have a surplus of outfielders -- they need to create room for Austin Meadows' arrival and would prefer Starling Marte over "Cutch" in centre -- so the idea of a package centred around Pompey or Pillar or Anthony Alford doesn't really fly. And none of the Jays' top pitching prospects really fit the bill, either: Conner Greene has been underwhelming since moving up to Double-A at the end of 2015 (he started 2016 back in High-A Dunedin), and Sean Reid-Foley has yet to pitch above High-A -- and those are the two most advanced of the top bunch.
So... enter Jon Morosi, who writes for MLB.com that a reunion between the Jays and Jose Bautista might be best for both sides. This is hardly a new notion, but the more you think about it the more it seems like Morosi is probably right here.
An off-season haul of Morales, Pearce, and Bautista ain't too shabby, and while that hardly makes your team younger, you're at least not committed long-term to aging veterans -- though that third year for Morales still hurts, and this is presuming you could get Jose to agree on a two-year deal at most.
It doesn't do as much to fix your right-hand-heavy lineup, either, but it's not like Bautista has any kind of dramatic platoon split -- he was better against right-handers in 2016 than against lefties, in fact -- you're still going to have Morales and his ability to hit from the left side, plus Smoak (who, yes, sucks, but is actually about league average there), and whoever comes in to platoon with Upton.
So... yeah... do it. Fuck whatever clubhouse shit might make the Jays reticent (or so I've heard whispered -- though it's not like the last two years haven't proven that they can't be wildly successful with Bautista in the clubhouse, even if he's maybe not the most liked guy (if that's even the case)), or the draft pick thing, and just do it.
I'm still underwhelmed by the idea of that being Pompey -- unless it's in centre and Pillar is moved, along with a minor league arm or two, for... say... David Robertson, Melky Cabrera, and cash (WHO SAYS NO? Probably the team who'd be destroying their outfield defence, right?). But there are options out there I think do work: Brandon Moss, for example. Maybe? Though... jeez, his nice wRC+ marks against right-handers are almost entirely from his home run power, as he's got some real poor contact skills.
Those types truly are no fucking fun to watch, no matter how much the metrics tell us they're more valuable than they look. Watching Upton and Smoak get exposed through the second half of the season (Saunders, too -- who, incidentally, had splits like Carrera's, meaning I'd be wary of bringing him back, with regression against LHP assumed and the abysmal defence) was kinda the worst. And, truth be told, lately I haven't quite been feeling some of the things that wRC+ is trying to tell me. Maybe I'm just scarred from all those strikeouts last year, but as outstanding as Moss's 25 home runs in 301 plate appearances against right-handers look, the .301 on-base and the 30% strikeout rate are pretty ugly. Is it really weighted right? I know, I know, I'm arguing against math here, it's just... yeuugh. Not sure I need to see another player like that.
Then again, Moss is coming off a couple atypical years at the plate. He had a nice little run from 2012 to 2014, so maybe you think there's some upside there. And his defensive metrics have been in the positive in two of the last three seasons, too. So.... I don't know.
What I do know is that it feels like I'm rambling at this point. There are outfield options out there, I think Bautista will make whoever gives him his next contract look pretty smart (I'm all in on the notion that without the toe and knee injuries his power numbers rise and he has a much closer-to-typical season in 2016), and... yeah... let's quit wasting our time dreaming on Ben Revere, who is surely a worse idea than Dalton Pompey.
Let's also see some movement here, eh Atkins???!?!?