With Rajai Davis signing a two year $10 million contract with the Detroit Tigers, the Toronto Blue Jays now have another hole to fill this spring- The fourth outfielder. We all know the moves (or lack of) that Toronto has made this off-season. Therefore, with no one coming into the organization who can play the outfield, Toronto will look to fill the bench outfield spot within the organization.
First of all, who is in? From left to right the Blue Jays will send out Melky Cabrera, Colby Rasmus and Jose Bautista. Melky had an off year last season and spent time on the disable list. Later it was discovered he had a tumour in his lower back that of course affecting his play. Rasmus and Bautista both played only 118 games this season, but still managed to hit 22 and 28 homeruns respectively. I’m sure with healthy seasons the Blue Jays will have one of the most productive outfields in all of Major League Baseball.
Now as for the fourth outfielder. Ideally, you would want a few things from the final outfielder. You would like someone who is a good fielder and can play all three outfield positions. Also, you would like to have either speed or power that can come off the bench and potentially have an impact instantly in a game. The Jays have all these tools available to them in different outfielders already in the organization:
Moises Sierra got his chance last season when the Jays traded away Travis Snider and Eric Thames. The 6’0″ 230lb right-hander hit seven homeruns and 28 RBI with a slash line of .252/.315/.409 in 84 games during the last two seasons. But Sierra is making moves in the right direction. Although last season he hit five fewer homeruns (1 instead of 6), Sierra hit nine more doubles (13 instead of 4), six more walks (14 compared to 8), and 15 less strikeouts (29 instead of 44) in 14 fewer games in Toronto. Scouts love his arm which is a plus coming off the bench especially as a defensive replacement. He has average speed and his base running is his biggest weakness, which isn’t great coming off the bench. With that being said, Alex Anthopoulos has said he has the ability of being a Nelson Cruz-like player. Toronto believes Sierra has power hidden in his bat some where, and it is up to him to find it. Another advantage to Sierra is that he is learning to play first. This works well for him and Toronto. With having both first basemen Edwin Encarnacion and Adam Lind in the lineup everyday, Toronto would now have an option if one would go down during the game without losing their DH.
Anthony Gose: Toronto’s centre fielder of the future. That was the tag line every time I heard Gose’s name. But it seems as time passed Gose’s stock fell for Blue Jays fans. The organization itself still believes that Gose can be Colby Rasmus’ replacement if we don’t sign him to an extension. In parts of two seasons with Toronto Gose owns a slash line of .240/.294/.361. Nothing really stands out with Gose’s time in Toronto. In the minors Gose doesn’t have any hitting statistics that stand out. What does stand out is his speed. He stole 76 bases in 2009 and 70 in 2011. With blazing speed and he can play all three outfield positions at a very high level. Batting from the left side and with his speed he can get on base with almost any contact he makes. Many believe Gose can have an upside like a Carl Crawford from 2008. Having a speedster like that coming off the bench makes it very exciting for fans late in the game, just like Rajai did.
Kevin Pillar saw his stock skyrocket during last season. With the many injuries that Toronto had to deal with Kevin got his chance with the big league club. Last season with Toronto Pillar hit .206/.250/.333 with three homeruns and 13 RBI in 36 game. None of those numbers stand out, but only a few players can come into the majors and make an impact right away. Of all the candidates named on this list Pillar has the best track record so far. Drafted by Toronto in the 32nd round in the 2011 draft he received a signing bonus of $1000. Kevin Pillar has a career minor slash line of .321/.366/.466 with 185 RBI and 82 stolen bases in 311 games. At a first glance he doesn’t look like he has the skills to play in the show, but his hustle and grind attitude make him a very valuable player. This is a Billy Beane player, high on base percentage with a great eye and a very low strikeout rate. Look for Pillar to start the season in Triple-A Buffalo to get more playing time and will be the first option if someone goes down.
Personally, I think that this is Sierra’s job to lose. He is out of options and Toronto still believes in him that his power will develop soon. But you never know what can happen this spring. It’s a long way until Opening Day, anything can happen.