Blue Jays Rumors: Could Toronto jump into Chase Headley pursuit?
With the rapid developments on the free agent market this winter, there has been unending chatter in regards to just about every player out there. One such player’s market has remained relatively quiet thus far, but that is about to change in a hurry.
Chase Headley is about to become a very popular name on the free agent market.
By snuffing out two of the prominent free agents at third base in Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez, the Boston Red Sox have allowed the quiet and patient Chase Headley to position himself as the top available option at the hot corner. In a year when the infield market is especially light in talent, that gives Headley some room to find himself a very attractive contract, at least from a player’s perspective.
More from Jays Journal
- Matt Chapman has been exactly what the Blue Jays needed
- Blue Jays: The goalposts are moving in the right direction
- Single-A Dunedin Blue Jays advance to the Championship Series
- Blue Jays: Comparisons for Alek Manoah’s Second Season
- Blue Jays: Adam Cimber, the unlikely decision King
The question of course if whether the Toronto Blue Jays will hold interest in the 31-year-old Headley, and if so, how much are they willing to commit to that pursuit.
The Blue Jays considered Chase Headley an option at the trade deadline during the 2014 season, but ultimately backed off before he was traded to the New York Yankees for a relatively moderate package that included Yangervis Solarte and Rafael De Paula. Perhaps it was the asking price in return, but the Blue Jays were known to have some reservations about Headley’s back issues as well.
Those were some valid concerns at the time, as the 30-year-old was dealing with a disc issue and was having trouble getting into the line-up and staying productive for the San Diego Padres in the first half. A normally solid performer, even with Petco Park as his home field, Headley struggled before the deadline to a .229/.296/.355 slash-line with just 7 home runs and 32 RBI in his first 77 games and 307 plate appearances. That lead to teams questioning whether his back was impacting his play and what his chances of staying healthy down the stretch were. At the end of the day, the Yankees were the only team desperate enough to take the chance.
Headley proved New York wise in their decision, showing drastic improvements down the stretch and solidifying their third base situation. In 58 games and 224 plate appearances with the Yankees, Headley improved across the board, slashing .262/.371/.398 with 6 home runs and 17 RBI. While the slugging was lower that one would hope in Yankee Stadium, Headley was able to rescue his season and regain some value for the upcoming free agent season.
Overall, Headley was able to boost himself into a 4-win season. While his offensive production rebounded, it was his strong fielding at third base that remained a constant. in 1082.2 innings of work at the hot corner, Headley showed plus range (UZR/150 of 28.0) and instincts at third with a 13 defensive runs saved in 2014.
But where does that value Chase Headley moving forward? How much weight do you put into a strong second half as compared to two years of injuries limiting his production?
It all comes down to need and the market for his services, something that Anthony Castrovince at MLB.com recently explored. Headley will have a heavy market, with Castrovince noting that the Yankees, Giants, and White Sox among the teams that would be after his services, along with the Blue Jays. While his contract will ultimately be determined by the bidding for his services, his value to the Blue Jays remains undetermined.
Toronto indeed needs an upgrade in the infield, primarily at second base. An acquisition of Chase Headley at third base would help solve that issue, allowing the team to slide Brett Lawrie over without losing anything in terms of fielding quality at the hot corner. Additionally, Headley’s switch-hitting ability will help replace the bats lost with Melky Cabrera out there on the free agent market and Adam Lind having been traded away. Headley gives the balance to the line-up but does so without the splits that Lind presented and does so by adding defensive value to the team.
However, the conversation will always turn to health, and with Headley looking for a rumored four-year, $60 million deal, that is a valid concern. Given the Blue Jays history with Adam Lind and his back issues while playing on the the turf at Rogers Centre, Headley’s ongoing disc problems may present a risk that the Blue Jays would be unwilling to take. His agent recently told the New York Post that Headley’s back was not an issue during his time in New York, but that is also a significantly different place to play than it is on the carpet in Toronto.
A lot still remains to be done in Toronto, and there are still available free agents and trade partners to sort through that may fill those needs. While Headley would solve at least one of those needs, and could do so within the confines of Toronto’s contract preferences, it still presents way too much of a risky proposition for me..