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Photo Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Jays Looking At Carloses Gomez and Gonzalez, Plus Jay Bruce

On Tuesday Ross Atkins acknowledged that Carlos Gonzalez, free agent formerly of the Rockies, would “fit well” with the Jays — and that so would Jay Bruce.

Today Jon Heyman added another name to that mix: Carlos Gomez.

Let’s take a look at all three as possibilities…

Carlos Gonzalez

The 32-year-old CarGo had some very good years with the Rockies, but 2017 wasn’t one of them. He finished the year with just an 84 wRC+, and FanGraphs pegged him as just a shade below replcement level. Two years removed from hitting 40 home runs, he belted just 14. Add to that the fact that defence has never exactly been his calling card, and you maybe wonder what the appeal is.

That’s especially so when you start to look at some of his splits — for example, the fact that he slashed a pitiful .203/.274/.332 outside of Coors Field this season, while putting up impressive numbers in the thin Colorado air: .323/.403/.520. Because wRC+ is park-adjusted, those outstanding home numbers only translate to a 111 mark, but still, that’s a concern. His previous away wRC+ marks were 94 and 102, and you have to go back to 2013 to find the last season where he looked like more than a league average hitter outside of Coors.

So what’s the appeal here? Beyond the fact that he’s a lefty-hitting outfielder and it’s not terribly abnormal to have worse splits on the road, there’s another split that seems encouraging on Gonalzalez: yes, his overall season wRC+ was just 84, but in the first half of 2017 his mark was just 51, and in the second half it was 125.

So maybe he’s a nice bounce-back candidate who’ll come for cheap? Yeah, maybe. But it turns out there’s a pretty big concern with that 125 mark: in the second half at home Gonzalez put up a 174 wRC+, and on the road it was just 73. Even as he was going absolutely nuts at Coors Field (.417/.488/.689), he continued to struggle outside of the thin air (.212/.287/.375).

I don’t like ascribing too much of a player’s success to the Coors effect — Larry Walker should be in the Hall of Fame, damn it! — but looking at all this, I’m gonna take a hard pass on this one.

Carlos Gomez

The 32-year-old Gomez had a very nice year in 2017, after spending a season in the weeds the year before. He played capable enough defence, mostly in centre, for Texas, putting up a 110 wRC+ and 2.3 WAR. Even the year before, when his WAR was just 0.9, he wasn’t completely awful: he was bad in 85 games with the Astros, but pretty great (.284/.362/.543, 139 wRC+) in 33 with the Rangers.

Gomez is an interesting case, really. He was a very light hitter early in his career, he had three very nice seasons in Milwaukee from 2013 to 2015 (103, 128, and 132 wRC+), and since then has rode some streakiness into basically being league average (98, 84, 110 wRC+). Despite a 97 wRC+ for his career, Steamer projects him to just 91 in 2018. That might be low, but maybe not! Plus he strikes out a whole lot, and is a right-handed hitter. So… y’know… probably not a great fit unless he’s real cheap.

Jay Bruce

Bruce we’ve known and talked about for a long time, dating back to when the Jays almost traded for him in the spring of 2016.

His 2017 season showcased him at his best, as the defensive metrics thought it was his best sdeason in years, his .324 OBP was his highest number since 2013, he hit 36 home runs, and was worth 2.7 WAR. He’s not a great player, but he certainly has value, and as a lefty hitter and capable right fielder, certainly would fit with these Jays.

The issue here, I think, is going to be the contract — even if it’s not going to be the five-years and $90 million (or whatever) that his agent was dreaming on earlier this offseason. Matthew Cerrone of SNY.com looks at some potential fits for the former Met, including a possible reunion with that club, who he tells us are interested, but only willing to give Bruce a three year deal. “There are enough teams interested in him (with a need for his services) that Bruce should be able to get a three-year deal worth $13-15 million per season,” he writes. “I understand that he probably wants five years and $75 million, but it’s hard to see how that happens given how teams just aren’t overpaying for power the way they did a few years ago.”

I dunno. If it’s really only going to cost $13 to $15 million, and only take three years, that’s maybe not so bad. He’ll probably maintain some trade value in case the Jays pivot (he’ll be 31 in 2018) and certainly does look a better fit than the other two. It’s unsexy as hell, and you’d like to see them do better than this, but getting almost three wins out of right field is a four or five win improvement on what they got out of it last year! Adding a lefty with some pop to this lineup would be nice, too. I could see it.

Y’know, unless the price goes up.

  • The Humungus

    As long as the price doesn’t wind up where it has with mid-late inning relief options (in terms of out of control-ness), then yeah, sure, Jay Bruce. Why not?

    • AD

      Im ok with bruce for a pearce/bruce platoon. But then what do you do with the other corner? Sign cain, trade for yelich? Will they have enough $? And hopefully they yes, trade he who shall not be named for a starter/reliever and jays can use alford/pompey in centre.

          • The Humungus

            In 2017, he had REALLY good splits vs lefties in away games. It’s actually really weird to look at (home – .156/.240/.244vs LHP in 100 PA, away – .296/.337/.642 vs LHP in 86 PA), and his career WRC+ vs lefties is 90, which is below average, but isn’t “can’t hit lefties” territory (Adam Lind’s WRC+ vs lefties is 56. THAT’s can’t hit lefties)

        • Mule or etc...

          The lefty in a L/R platoon can easily get 550 PAs a season if healthy all year. And resting a 30 year old outfielder once a week probably isn’t a bad idea.

          • The Humungus

            That’s silly. The Red Sox rotation has 4 lefties in it. You’re telling me you’re going to platoon a guy at $15M a year when one of your division rivals is guaranteed to throw multiple lefties at you in a series? A guy with a career WRC+ against lefties that’s higher than Kevin Pillar’s career WRC+ against both sides? C’mon man. Don’t even try to help this idiotic argument.

          • Kris

            Bruce’s OPS Vs LHP is 688 over the last three years. I don’t think it matters how much Bruce is being paid, what matters is winning ballgames. Bruce will be paid to hit .883 (2017) or 834 (2015-17) Vs RHP. When he plays Vs LHP he hits like a 2B, not something you want from a corner OF. Pearce can at least cover that weakness. And then I would Hernandez in LF to give the young a shot. But in the end I don’t think Bruce is my first choice for RF but he does solve the LHB issues.

            I wonder if the Jays should take a run at Piscotty from the Cards, a young guy who is coming off year. Oakland is in talks for prospects.

          • Mule or etc...

            Why would you start a guy with this slash vs lefties .226/.291/.421(mighty fine for a backup catcher) when you can start a guy with this slash vs lefties .262/.345/.492? That’s just poor roster management.

  • fred2

    Any comment on Shapiro’s statement this morning that (paraphrasing) “but for the fans we would have hit the reset button maybe 2 years ago” and also the “very, VERY, high cost” of success in 2015.

    I think this is a pretty shitty statement on a number of levels … it suggests Shapiro is blaming any failure in the next few years on Anthopoulos, and it suggests where he can’t blame AA, it’s all the fans fault for wantonly coming out and supporting the team, and forcing him to put a competitive team on the field. It also suggests he basically doesn’t believe in the current direction of the club, and is waiting for moment when he can start a proper reset (and yeah, I get that ‘reset’ doesn’t necessarily mean ‘blow it the fuck up’). It says quite clearly that the Jays shouldn’t have ‘gone for it’ in 2015, and should probably have missed the playoffs because of what that would mean in some alternative universe where those prospects are still in hand, and still worth something.

    Look – I’m really trying to drink the Shapiro koolaid, I really am. I want to believe he isn’t a bit of a prick, and the direction the team is going is basically ok, but he really seems to go out of his way to sound like a whiny child sometimes.

    And if the Jays had won 6 more games in 2015 and won the World Series, would it still be a ‘very, VERY, high price’? They had a legit chance and AA went for it, and then they had another legit chance in 2016, and perhaps will have an outside one in 2018. Surely that’s why they play the damn games, and not to be in a perpetual mode of building for a future that never arrives?

    Anyway. Excuse me while I put up my umbrella and wait for the 10,000 ton pile of shit about to be dropped on me. I don’t do baseball journalism for a living. I barely know what I’m talking about, so have away at it.

    • Steve-O

      ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

      Thing is, do we even need to *like* Shapiro, or can he be a kind-of-whiny prick who is also good at his job?

      Way too much criticism of Shapiro (and Atkins) I come across – I’m not accusing you of this – seems to stem from some deep, dark hatred of any kind of corporate-speak, some perceived slight of the AA era, and the suspicion that he uses a stand-up desk.

      You will find no bigger fan of the AA era than me #tradealltheprospects and honestly, I don’t care if Shapiro feels a bit miffed, but I wouldn’t really blame him if he was. AA got to throw a massive kegger and Shapiro didn’t even get invited, and was still stuck with the bill.

      (Disclaimer #1: I have a stand-up desk, and it’s great!)
      (Disclaimer #2: Ok, my desk is currently in the ‘sitting’ position.)

    • ErnieWhitt

      I don’t understand how we got to a point where we are only allowed to a binary opinion of either AA’s time with the club or Shapiro’s tenure. To me BOTH guys have/had strengths and weaknesses which have played out in front of our eyes.

      Count me among those who were very critical of AA in a few of his moves. That said, I was also jumping out of my skin with joy in that final weekend series in Baltimore in 2015 when the Jays were kicking the everlasting shit out of the Orioles and the chant of “THANK YOU ALEX!” was raining from all corners of Camden Yard. To act like a few prospects weren’t worth that playoff attempt, simply because the team got cold at the wrong time and missed out on the WS, is to me absolutely nuts – though I can see how someone who wasn’t here then, and didn’t experience 1994-2015 as a Blue Jays fan wouldn’t give a shit.

      I even dispute the fact that the Jays “paid a very, very high price” for the chance at the WS. Yes taking on Tulo’s contract is difficult now, but its almost 2018 and Jay Bruce wants 5/90.. I’m pretty sure $20M isn’t what it used to be.

      I also think huge respect is due to Shapiro for the way that he has transformed the org into a modern entity. Fans may not like every change but you can’t complain about being disadvantaged to the Yankees and then manage the org like you’re running a used car lot. He has implemented some very encouraging changes which should pay long term dividends for the org.

      The last thing I will say relates to his comment: stating that you made choices for the fans, when they clearly didn’t work out is not a winning communications strategy. If Kendrys Morales is supposed to appease me, please spare me and make the other harder choice.

      • Steve-O

        It’s funny, the “we did it for the fans” thing is a neat little Rorschach test for fans. Either it’s

        A) a terrible PR blunder by a guy who is trying to appease a fan base that he feels is impeding him from doing what he really wants, or

        B) a statement about a FO committed to delivering a competitive product to the fans while at the same time retooling/replenishing the system to position it better for the long haul

  • McNamee’s Beer Can

    Carlos Gomez, Carlos Gonzalez, Carols Tosca, who cares? I feel like if you’re going to upgrade, then UPGRADE or let Alford, Hernandez, And Pompey play. I’m all for going for Yelich. I would rather the Jays sign JDM, because I’m tired of hearing MLB network talk about how it’s a forgone conclusion that he’s going to the entitled Red Sox.