Big Leaguers Wanted

Photo credit:© Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
2 years ago
It’s our right as fans to become sentimental about the teams we cheer for.
Rowdy Tellez is, by all accounts, a person to become sentimental about.
We all know his story — losing his mother to cancer only weeks before his big league debut. There might not have been a dry eye in the fanbase, watching his father celebrate his major league firsts. Through that, we developed a bond with Rowdy the person as much as Rowdy the player. That’s fine. There is nothing wrong with that.

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Rowdy, the player, earned favour with the fans with a path through the minors of promising power potential and some mammoth home runs when he arrived on the scene in Toronto. Over the course of his 219 game tenure in Toronto, he had several extended periods where he appeared as though he might have turned the corner and become a serviceable left-handed power threat in the Blue Jays lineup, but each time, an even longer streak of poor discipline and ugly plate appearances was sure to follow.
The legacy Rowdy leaves behind in Toronto is one of a replacement-level offensive player with below-average defence. But that doesn’t mean that’s all he’ll ever be. And if at some point in his journey, he does finally turn that corner and becomes the player we’ve seen in short flashes of offensive output, it doesn’t mean it was the wrong decision to move him.
The Toronto Blue Jays can no longer be a destination for major league hopefuls. On the cusp of becoming a contender, you can no longer afford the luxury of spending roster spots on guys with uncovered potential. You can no longer wait for once-promising prospects to make adjustments and get back on track. The Houston Astros aren’t pining over the loss of Teoscar Hernandez as they watch him go to his first All-Star game. It’s the cost of doing business at the top of your division, and Rowdy will not be the first such casualty of the Blue Jays’ impending contender status.
Trevor Richards, the likely primary target in the trade with The Brewers, was traded once already this season, by Tampa with Willy Adames to The Brewers. Unlike previously acquired reliever Adam Cimber, Richards has had some success in limited high leverage situations this season, holding opponents to just 4 hits in 8 high leverage outings this season. The most interesting note about Richards’ work is that he dominates left-handed hitting. In fact, Lefties have a .497 OPS against him this season. For a bullpen that has struggled mightily to find consistent left-handed options, a guy with reverse splits becomes incredibly attractive and much easier to leverage against opposing teams. It also allows The Jays to move players with big-league experience to the alt site and to Trenton and extend their depth and flexibility as far as possible. It seems more vital than ever this season, with pitchers seemingly hitting the IL daily, to stretch the depth of the organization as far as possible.
Bowden Francis accomplishes the same thing, but at the bottom of that depth pool. He’s a big right-handed starter on the cusp of rule 5 eligibility who misses bats and seldom issues base on balls. He’s looked terrific since his promotion from Double-A to Triple-A earlier in the season, and while he has no big-league experience to date, he offers another arm to go to in the event of an emergency.
We should expect more of these types of transactions leading up to the deadline, and even before next season. Players like Danny Jansen, Jonathan Davis, Riley Adams, and even Santiago Espinal, who has performed well above expectations, will have to prove their worth and keep their play from slipping for any extended period of time or they’ll have to be replaced by someone who will. That’s what contending teams do.

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