The Left Side of The Infield Is Unbelievable
One year ago today, it was impossible to imagine the Blue Jays acquiring both Josh Donaldson and Troy Tulowitzki to play on the left side of its infield. With two shocking trades, Alex Anthopoulos seemingly turned Major League Baseball into a video game. Acquiring star players is exciting, but doing so without surrendering any of Dalton Pompey, Daniel Norris, Aaron Sanchez, and Max Pentecost is what makes these deals impressive.
The questions now become: Is this enough to put the Jays over the top? If Toronto’s biggest need is pitching, why use assets to upgrade at shortstop? To be clear, every fan that wants to bolster the pitching staff is really hoping to improve the Blue Jays’ run prevention. Adding a stronger defensive shortstop will help do just that, as the improvement in the field should help lower the team’s ERA.
Another key point to make, as Pat Gillick always says, a run is a run. Taking a good offence and making it even better will help win more games. Despite high batting averages, Jose Reyes has been around league average offensively over the past two seasons. If Tulowitzki can get back to his usual self, the Jays will make an already strong offence and make it even better.
Is this enough to put the Jays over the top in the division this year? The answer is probably not. The Yankees have such a large lead in the American League East, that even a trade for Clayton Kershaw or Mike Trout is likely not enough. For this reason, giving up top prospects for rental players does not make much sense. If the Blue Jays are going to buy at the deadline and aim for a shot at the wild card game, targeting players like Tulowitzki that can also help in the future should be a main focus.
All in all, this is a calculated risk for Anthopoulos. If Tulowitzki can stay healthy and play to his usual standard throughout the contract, this could end up being a great deal for the Jays. If Tulowitzki struggles to stay on the field, this trade could look bad very quickly. Anthopoulos is probably not qualified to medically evaluate Tulo’s hip, so he must trust his medical staff and make a calculated risk. Losing Jeff Hoffman and Miguel Castro hurts, but I am extremely excited to watch Troy Tulowitzki play.
It’s Time To Call Up Dalton Pompey
Though Anthopoulos is able to make some major moves, he often seems to struggle at with the little things. With all the focus on the rotation, let’s not forget that there is a major hole in LF:
Defensive Runs Saved
Of the three left field options only Danny Valencia, who provides most of his value against left-handed pitching, has a positive WAR as a left fielder. With such a big focus on improving the team’s run prevention, we must not forget that a defensive improvement in left field could make a major impact. Toronto currently sits 29th in the league in LF WAR, which clearly is hurting its attempts to contend.
It is time to call up Dalton Pompey. With a minor league gold glove to his name, Pompey would instantly provide a major upgrade defensively for a team desperately trying to improve its run prevention. Though his swing was off when he started the season in the majors, he can also provide some value offensively. He has absolutely torn up minor-league pitching of late and is also a strong base runner. If you are writing off Pompey because of a poor showing to start the season, you’re making a major mistake. He is Toronto’s best option in left field.
Trade Targets The Blue Jays Should Pursue
Carlos Carrasco: He is controllable until 2020, cheap, and has the 2nd best xFIP among starting pitchers over the last calendar year. Prying him away from Cleveland would be extremely difficult, but could definitely be worth a significant asking price.
Tyson Ross: Another pitcher that could help the Blue Jays beyond this season, Ross generates a ton of strikeouts and a ton of ground balls. This skill set would certainly play in the Rogers Centre, while a FIP under 3 would play just about anywhere. I’d rather take the assets it would cost for half a season of David Price and use them to acquire the more controllable Tyson Ross.
Mike Fiers: Though he is another pitcher with an ability to strike out plenty of hitters, Fiers is not a household name at this point. If the Brewers will move him, the Jays could use Fiers as a mid-rotation starter for years to come.After
Hisashi Iwakuma: If Toronto is going to look to acquire a rental, I am a big fan of the struggling Iwakuma. With an ERA over 5 through his first eight starts, his value may be at an all time low. He’s posted back-to-back 3+ WAR seasons, so Anthopolous may be able to get terrific value here.