What Happens to Travis Snider if Eric Thames has Success in Toronto?

Everyone seems to be happy about the promotion of Eric Thames from AAA Las Vegas to the Toronto Blue Jays. The city is buzzing about how he is going to do in Toronto, whether or not he’d do well enough to stick around long-term, and everyone seems to believe that he was the right choice. Well, everyone except Travis Snider, I’m guessing.

Eric Thames had a very sound debut against the Rays and Jeremy Hellickson. He certainly didn’t look out of place, despite a “Jose Bautista effort like” swing on the first pitch he saw. He earned himself a walk and drove in a run on a single, both against Hellickson – much more than most Jays could manage last night. I personally think it was important for him to get that first hit out of the way. Now the pressure is off, and he can concentrate on earning a lineup spot for the long-term.

That brings me back to Travis Snider.

Did Jays fans overlook how Snider may feel about being passed over in preference of Thames? I think so. Most of us do agree that it is the “right” move to give Thames a shot simply because Snider is working on some things and Thames was on fire to begin the 2011 season. But still, when you have playing time seniority over others and were used to being called “The Franchise”, having failed so little while climbing the ranks all of the way to the majors, it has to sting when the phone rings in Las Vegas and they’re looking for the untested LF instead of you.

image courtesy of ducksonthepondkid

There’s a good chance that Snider understands the move and that he’ll work through whatever he has to work through in order to make it back to the majors. But, so many more questions pop up if Eric Thames hammers the ball during his big league stay. How will the Jays handle the situation? Will they look to begin moving some people out? And if so, would it be Thames, or Snider who is dealt? Who has the better trade value, and what could the returns be?  Would Edwin Encarnacion be dealt instead, allowing the DH to be Snider or Thames? After watching how much effort he’s been putting into his play and his lack of a single HR this season, that could very much be the case. And finally, but possibly most importantly, what if Snider never gets hot enough to earn a promotion from AAA (or stays there until at least September)? So many questions….so few answers….

Snider has hit .163/.213/.209 over his last 10 games in AAA, so it’s evident that whatever he’s working through there is seriously affecting his play. It could be a simple cold spell, but until he turns “Eric Thames hot”, he’s probably not going to unseat any of the current Jays OF. Therefore, it could be in the realm of possibility (insert gulp), that Snider spends the bulk of the remainder of the 2011 season in AAA.

I, for one, am certain that Snider will do everything in his power to make sure that doesn’t happen. But I can’t help but allow some uncertainty to set in now that his struggles have extended themselves to AAA. With the current situation playing itself out, it actually seems like a possibility at this point, and who would have thought that could be true when the season began?

The Jays will continue to say that he is an important piece of the team’s future, and that he will make a return – with no date given – at some point in 2011. However, is there a chance that Alex Anthopoulos begins fielding calls about the availability of Snider in trade talks? I have to believe that he would consider doing so, if the price was right.

For example, if a team like the Arizona Diamondbacks was willing to send Justin Upton to Toronto – a player the Jays have sought to acquire in the past – in return for Snider and another piece, is there a chance Anthopoulos would bite? What about the Mets and Jose Reyes? There are a lot of opportunities presenting themselves on the trade market, and for a GM that has already moved fan favorites like Roy Halladay and Shaun Marcum, I don’t think it’s hard to imagine his moving a player with such potential as Snider holds.

Let’s remember something about the Jays as we ponder the situation in place for Travis Snider – they have a ton of talented outfielders coming up the ranks, so Snider isn’t exactly the be all and end all of LF for the Jays well into the future. The way I see it, Eric Thames is showing that he could make a case for keeping the LF spot. Moises Sierra is in AA and could come into play very soon. There are 3 players  playing excellent baseball in LoA Lansing in Jake Marisnick, Marcus Knecht, and Michael Crouse, who could and should all be playing in AA at some point in 2012, and could be ready to make appearances in Toronto as early as 2013.  And finally, what if the Jays select a highly skilled OF in this year’s draft with the first pick or a supplemental pick? What if that OF is a college bat that moves quickly in the system?

All I’m saying here is that all of the sudden, Travis Snider is looking like a very movable piece, where as a year ago, most of us may have said the opposite. I’m still very hopeful that Snider will blossom into the 40 HR bat we all know he can be as a Toronto Blue Jays player, but if Eric Thames has success in Toronto, the Jays could very well be tempted to use Snider’s potential as trade bait or be forced to keep Thames around a lot longer than anyone predicted. That would keep Snider in AAA for a much longer time than any of us predicted.

Just some thoughts on the Snider and Thames situation. Do you agree, disagree, or have differing thoughts? Let us know!

-MG

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Tags: Eric Thames Travis Snider

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