The Jays and Royals didn’t make a trade this off season, but they did grab each other’s AAA OF depth guys. The Jays first took Joey Gathright, but he had already left the Royals a while ago and is much older than Buck Coats or Chris Lubanski. He also has some MLB time, which makes a direct comparison hard to do. So other than building the KC-TOR depth chart connections, Gathright is not directly comparable to Coats. The Royals grabbed Coats on November 29th, and the Jays took Lubanski thereafter. Since neither of these players has huge upside, I thought it would be fun to compare whether the Jays improved their OF depth by adding Lubanski and letting Coats go.
Lubanski will be 25 in March, is 6’3″ and 205 lbs, bats left, and was selected in the 1st rd by KC in 2005. Since he was injured most of 2009, I’ll list his 2008 stats to compare:
393 AB, 95 hits, 20 doubles, 8 triples, 15 HRs, .242 avg, .306 OBP/.448 SLG / .754 OPS
Coats will be 28 in June, is 6’3″ 195 lbs, bats left, and was drafted by the Cubs in the 18th rd of the 2000 draft. His 2009 stats are as follows:
500 AB, 151 hits, 33 doubles, 3 triples, 6 HRs, .302 avg, .361 OBP / .416 SLG / .777 OPS and 25 stolen bases
The major differences between the two are these:
- Coats has reached his full potential, and it’s not really an impact performance. He is probably the same type of OFer as David DeJesus who is already with KC and may explain why the Royals grabbed him. I know Jays fans in the minors loved him and his work ethic is off the charts, so they’re getting a 100% hard working guy. He also adds the dimension of stealing bases, which gives him a better chance at being a useful OFer off the bench. Add to that his good OBP and average, and you’ve got someone who can make a 25-man roster and become a decent asset.
- Lubanski, on the other hand, still has room to grow. His stock was down due to injury, but he has a lot more power potential and could become an impact guy off the bench. The major areas of concern for him are his low average and OBP, the fact that he’s coming an injury riddled season, and the fact that his stats got worse as he progressed from HiA to AAA. Whether or not Lubanski comes around, listens to coaching, and is revitalized by the move to Toronto remains to be seen. KC let him go because they were frustrated with his lack of progress, hopefully the Jays can turn that around. I don’t know how the fans felt about him, but we’ll see how the Vegas fans respond to him in 2010.
With other rumors linking the Jays to Eric Thames and other bench OFers, chances are they are not done adding depth to the OF. It does seem likely that the OF in Las Vegas this season will be a combination of LF Chris Lubanski, CF Darin Mastroianni, RF Joey Gathright and Adam Calderone. These are the “next in line” guys for the Jays if injury were to occur in 2010. Unless Lubanski improves and starts to hit as approaching 27 years old hitters sometimes do, I would much rather have had Coats come up. Then again, the Jays also picked up Mike McCoy and Jarrett Hoffpauir who can both play the OF if needed, so it could be that they’ll let Lubanski play all of 2010 in the minors regardless of their situation.
In terms of overall potential to become an impact bat, Lubanski wins outright. He’s a more powerful hitter, can still learn to hit for higher average, and could become a useful asset for the Jays in the future if he matures well. In terms of help for 2010 and for the better all around player coming off the bench, Coats wins outright due to his versatility – but the Jays were not looking for that since they have it in McCoy. Overall it’s a decent swap for the Jays and could turn out well for 2011.