The Blue Jays Will Be Fine In Left Field
The Michael Saunders injury hurts. He was so excited to be a Blue Jay and I couldn't wait to watch him play. The fact that he will miss half of the season due to a fluke event is incredibly frustrating. On a positive note, the Blue Jays should be fine in left field even without him.
At one point this offseason, Andy Dirks seemed like the favourite to be the Blue Jays starting left fielder (editor's note: you think so? I figured Pillar). Dirks is expected to be cleared for baseball activities in the next couple of weeks and has been a solid MLB player when healthy. Chris Dickerson was also recently signed by the team and could make a decent platoon with Kevin Pillar. Both Dirks and Dickerson are strong defensively in left field and should provide the Blue Jays with a solid replacement (second editor note: we differ on the definition of solid).
There are also quite a few outfielders on the trade market. Both the Boston Red Sox and San Diego Padres have a jammed outfield, while the Tampa Bay Rays and Los Angeles Dodgers. The supply of corner outfielders clearly outweighs the demand, which should drive the price down if Toronto decides to look for a trade.
Here is a quick run down of some possible trade options:
- David DeJesus: Strong numbers against right handed pitching with a knack of getting on base. Very strong defensive numbers in left field. Set to earn $5 million this year, with a $1 million buyout on next year's option. If the Rays will move him within the division, DeJesus could make a strong platoon with Kevin Pillar.
- Will Venable: Came very close to a 3 WAR season just one year ago. Has the ability to play all three outfield positions and could also make a nice platoon with Kevin Pillar. Will make $4.25 million in the final year of his current deal.
- Andre Ethier: Has crushed right handed pitching for his career and may soon be traded by the Dodgers. The Dodgers would have to pay a substantial amount of his salary to facilitate a trade.
The Blue Jays Should Be Interested In Carlos Quentin
By wRC+, Carlos Quentin has out hit Jose Bautista in two of the last three seasons. He seems destined to be moved by the Padres, who will likely retain part of Quentin's $8M salary to facilitate a trade. To be clear, I view Quentin as a designated hitter rather than a replacement for left field.
Acquiring Quentin could be a strong buy low option for the Blue Jays. Much like other recent acquisitions, Quentin takes his fare share of walks and has played in a pitcher-friendly environment. A move to the Rogers Centre could be a much stronger fit for his power numbers. Though Quentin does have defensive limitations and injury concerns, becoming a designated hitter could help him stay in the lineup.
Though I do like both Daric Barton and Justin Smoak as cheap options, the Jays could have a great chance to buy low here. There are a very limited number of teams in the market for a DH, meaning the Blue Jays could end up having a ton of leverage in trade negotiations. Let's not forget that Quentin had a similar wRC+ to Robinson Cano, Edwin Encarnacion, Paul Goldschmidt and Giancarlo Stanton from 2012-2013. When he was healthy, he could really hit.
Acquiring Quentin does not hurt the Blue Jays roster flexibility, but rather helps it. The Blue Jays would no longer need two players to platoon at DH, opening a spot on the roster for an additional utility player. Though Danny Valencia would no longer have much of a role, plenty of teams should be interested in acquiring him. With very few teams in need of a DH, Quentin could end up being one of the bargains of the offseason. Of course, it takes two to make a trade and the Padres are looking at Quentin as a possibility at first base.
Trading Dioner Navarro Needs To Be A Priority
Having Dioner Navarro on this team could be a major problem. It is not Navarro's skills or attitude that concern me, but rather John Gibbons' managing. Navarro would be a strong backup catcher to Russell Martin, but using him in a larger role could really hurt the Jays production.
Dioner Navarro's offence against right handed pitching has been well below average for his career. He simply should not be the primary designated hitter for a team trying to contend. Navarro could DH against left-handed pitching, but that role is probably best served by Danny Valencia.
If John Gibbons does plan on making Navarro the primary DH, moving Dioner could essentially be an addition by subtraction. Navarro is a strong backup that provides solid depth at catcher, but this sure seems like an unnecessary luxury given his $5 million salary. A trade is probably the best option for Navarro's career as well, so please make it happen Alex.
A deal with the Diamondbacks makes so much sense. I would not wish Arizona's catching situation on any team, even the Yankees. Arizona has Cliff Pennington as their backup infielder, who would have a strong shot to be the Blue Jays starter at second base. The Diamondbacks also have Oliver Perez, who could slide into Brett Cecil 's old role if he becomes the new closer. Both players have one year remaining on their contract and make less money than Dioner Navarro. If the D-Backs are looking to build trade value, they are better off with a starting catcher than a volatile reliever or backup infielder.
If a deal cannot be reached with Arizona, the Athletics and White Sox seem like the next best options. A trade is best for both the team and the player, which means trading Navarro should be a priority. Having an extra $5 million to spend could go towards a reliever, second baseman, left field replacement or designated hitter.