There is a lot to be said about the trade of manager John Farrell to the Boston Red Sox. We can rant and rave about how little the Blue Jays got in return, but for the most part, it is inconsequential.
At the end of the day, most of what Blue Jays fans were wishing for in return was exactly that; wishes. The reality of the matter is that Alex Anthopoulos did get something of consequence in the deal. In Mike Aviles, he acquired a major league ready player that fills a team need in the middle of the diamond. Moreover, Aviles is perhaps the most significant player moved in such a transaction outside of Randy Winn being flipped to Seattle by the then Tampa Bay Devil Rays for Lou Piniella.
So what exactly did the Blue Jays get in Aviles?
Offensively, as shown in his statistics above, the 31-year-old Aviles is a fairly average hitter with a lifetime .277 average and .715 OPS, which isn’t horrible by middle infield standards. He has decent pop from the right-side of the plate
However, his .308 lifetime on-base percentage is a bit troubling, especially considering that one of Toronto’s biggest needs was finding players with the ability to get on base outside of Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion. That issue for Aviles lies in the fact that he has a lifetime walk rate of 4.2% and a baBIP of .272 over the last few seasons, showing that his game relies on putting the ball in play, unlike his likely predecessor Kelly Johnson.
Another footnote on Aviles is his performance at Rogers Centre. The sample is small, but in 11 games, the newest Blue Jays owns just a .167 batting average, striking out 7 times in 30 career at bats in Toronto.
Defensively, Mike Aviles is a tremendous upgrade over the aforementioned Johnson. His 5.3 UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating) at shortstop, which ranked 9th in baseball, is a marked improvement on Johnson’s -6.9 at second base, which ranked 19th. Playing in a park like Rogers Centre, where balls get on a fielder a lot quicker than most fields, having a more sure-handed fielder at second is nothing to scoff at.
At worst, Aviles is a one-year solution at second. He is first-year arbitration eligible in 2013 and will likely see a modest increase from the $1.2 million he made in 2012. At best, he is under club control until 2015, but at 31, he’s not likely to last that long in Toronto.
All said, the Blue Jays know what they are getting in Aviles instead of taking a shot at a mid to lower-tiered prospect. He addresses a team need and puts to bed an issue that has been wearing thin on the fan base.