To be honest, I haven’t thought about Devon Travis much recently. He’s a name that kind of fell behind a bunch of others in Toronto’s convoluted middle infield log jam. After a disappointing season, it looks like Travis’ days as a Blue Jay could be over.
I was browsing MLB Trade Rumours and came across their annual list of non-tender candidates. Teams have until Nov. 30 to decide whether or not they’re going to tender arbitration-eligible players a contract for the 2019 season. If tendered, a player is given a non-guaranteed contract for the upcoming season, the terms of which are negotiated before the arbitration process. If a player isn’t tendered, they become a free agent.
Two Blue Jays appeared on this list. The first is obvious. Yangervis Solarte’s team option was declined, but he remains under control of the team. I can’t imagine he’ll be tendered a contract. Brandon Drury is going to fill his role next year at a cheaper cost. The other name was Travis.
Like I said, I just sort of forgot about Travis. When we talk about the future of Toronto’s infield, we think Bo Bichette being here sooner rather than later, Lourdes Gurriel, who has already arrived, and Cavan Biggio, who had a breakout season in the minors. Then there’s also current players like Aledmys Diaz, who had a nice first season in Toronto, the aforementioned Drury who was acquired mid-season in the J.A. Happ deal, and the corpse of Troy Tulowitzki. Travis has kinda fallen off the grid as a part of this team’s future.
After rosters were expanded in September, Travis got into just 13 games with the Blue Jays. It probably would have been even fewer had Gurriel not been injured trying to turn a single into a double against the White Sox. In those games, he slashed a paltry .245/.245/.347 line.
It’s been a frustrating ride for Travis, a player who we once viewed as a key long-term player for the club. He was acquired in a hilariously one-sided deal for Anthony Gose prior to the 2015 season and hit the ground running. Travis was excellent in 2015, putting up an .859 OPS in 62 games before getting injured. He started the 2016 season on the shelf, came back, and was a major offensive catalyst for the team yet again, posting a .785 OPS in 101 games. Unfortunately, Travis got injured during the Jays’ ALCS series against Cleveland and got taken off the playoff roster.
2017 was yet another unfortunate injury-riddled season for Travis. He was enjoying a nuclear hot streak before suffering a knee injury. He was supposed to come back at some point but didn’t after suffering setback after setback before his season was shut down. He actually enjoyed a fairly healthy season in 2018, but his numbers were dismal, as he put up a career-worst .656 OPS in 103 games.
Travis will be 28 years old in February. Are the Jays going to give him another chance to prove himself? Or are they ready to cut ties and move on?
Looking at next year, I imagine Gurriel has a middle infield spot locked down. I really, really don’t think we’re going to be seeing Tulowitzki, sadly enough, but I expect Diaz to be back. Drury will play in a utility role, playing some third before Vlad Jr. comes up in mid-April and then probably shifting over to second. The wild card is Bo Bichette, who seems primed to start in Triple-A. If he kicks down the door, he’ll be up at some point too.
I mean, given the team’s rebuilding situation, it wouldn’t be all that hard to find at bats for Travis. There are a lot of names in that mix, but few of them are sure things. That said, there’s also the issue of him taking a spot on the 40-man roster from a younger prospect. Even if you keep him on the roster and try to boost his value to get something for him in a trade, you’re risking losing another prospect in the process.
You have to think with Toronto’s impending roster crunch that Travis will be one of the ones on the outside looking in.