Let’s find the Blue Jays a lefty masher to platoon with Daulton Varsho
Photo credit:© Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
24 days ago
With the trade for Daulton Varsho, the BlueJays have solidified their main outfield group headed into the 2023 season. But that said, an issue that has been raised is who will fill the fourth outfielder spot, and what kind of player should be targeted to fill the position.
Varsho is a big left-handed bat who plays very well defensively, but his weakness is hitting left-handed pitching. Toronto’s fourth outfielder, ideally, would be somebody who can mash lefty pitching while also fulfilling the organization’s goal of being able to prevent runs with strong defence.
Let’s go through some names who would be good fits…
Failed to load video.
The 2013 National League MVP is entering his 14th season in the big league and he’s well past his prime by this point.
His 0.3 WAR rating according to FanGraphs last season was the second-lowest of his career, with his worst coming during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. McCutchen slashed a .237/.316/.384 line for the Brewers over 580 plate appearances in 2022 and his value was dropped largely because of poor defence.
While I don’t worry too much about his defence if he were to be a part-time DH, I don’t think it would be the best use for the composition of the team, given the Blue Jays will use the spot for George Springer and Alejandro Kirk. In fact, last season for the Brewers, McCutchen was primarily used as a DH, playing sparingly in both corner outfielder spots and posting less-than-stellar defensive numbers.
On the flip side, McCutchen would definitely provide many benefits to any team with his fantastic leadership abilities and the level of respect he has garnered through his years in the league. The 36-year-old can definitely help a contending team because he still has pop and he can hit lefty pitching, but he might not be an ideal fit for the Blue Jays because of his poor defence.
Failed to load video.
When looking at a fourth outfielder who can mash some left-handed hitters, you can’t do much better than what Adam Duvall did last year for the Braves.
His .844 OPS against left-handed pitchers would be fantastic as a platoon option. His defence is also strong, with an OAA in the 88th percentile in addition to, positive arm strength, sprint speed, and outfielder jump. He has good underlying power numbers with his ISO numbers never dipping below .188 over the last four seasons. Duvall has had seasons in which he’s popped 30+ home runs in the past, which could help supplement the power that was left over from trading away Teoscar Hernandez.
While those are all positives, the 34-year-old did not have a great overall season in 2022 and there are risks attached to signing him. He had issues with his wrist which led to season-ending surgery in July, and that could be a cause for concern.
Failed to load video.
The now 35-year-old opted out of his $13 million player option with the Chicago White Sox to test free agency, and while he probably won’t get more money than that, the chances of him playing for a contender are much higher.
This was Pollock’s first real down year since arguably his rookie season, but we don’t have to look back very far to see how effective he can be. In 2021 with the L.A. Dodgers, he slashed .297/.355/.536. In 2022 with the White Sox, this year fell to .245/.292/.389. He dealt with a couple of different injuries while playing in Chicago, which could have played a role in his poor results.
Pollock’s underlying stats see someone who could still be a productive hitter in a platoon role. For the Jays, the team needs a hitter who can mash left-handed pitching, and Pollock can do that better than anyone else listed in this article with a .935 OPS solely against LHP last season.
But the trouble with Pollock is mediocre defence. He was once a very good centre fielder but that isn’t the case anymore. The Sox used him in all three outfield spots in 2022 and he had negative defensive value, as his Outs Above Average ranked in the 32nd percentile.
His World Series-winning pedigree and years of experience in the league would be a helpful addition to a young team, but, just like with McCutchen, you’d ideally like to use Pollock as the designated hitter rather than in the field, and the Blue Jays need that spot to be open for other players.
The reality for the Blue Jays is that they might not be able to find the perfect free agent on the market this late into the winter and they might have to sacrifice some mediocre defence for a hitter who can mash lefty pitching.
Recent articles from Ryan Snodgrass