Blue Jays Rumors: Is Alberto Callaspo a bounce-back candidate?


The Toronto Blue Jays have continued to make a big splash on the hot stove this winter, with players coming in and players going out. And while they’ve landed arguably the two biggest pulls of the young offseason, in Josh Donaldson and Russell Martin, neither fully addresses the team’s immediate needs at second base, left field, and in the bullpen. What they have done though is create a need to get a bit creative in addressing those needs.

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports feels that the Blue Jays may twirl some of that creativity in regards to their second base opening, and may possibly explore a bounce-back candidate like Alberto Callaspo for the role, per a tweet from Sunday night.

Callaspo would certainly represent a gamble for the Toronto Blue Jays, after struggling in his second season with the Oakland Athletics in 2014. In 127 games with Oakland, Callaspo struggled to the tune of .223 with 4 home runs and 39 RBI. As a player that makes his bones at the plate through exceptional on-base skills (.330 career OBP) percentage, Callaspo watched that fall to .290 in 2014, likely a combined results of a four-year low walk rate of 8.9% and a rather pedestrian .242 BABIP. Overall, he was worth -1.1 wins above replacement as his poor defensive skills were unable to make up for his fall as a hitter, his second straight season being at or below replacement level.

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With the Blue Jays, the team would be looking at using him as a stop-gap for second base prospect Devon Travis, who was acquired earlier this winter in exchange for outfielder Anthony Gose. However, while Callaspo does have experience at the keystone, his fielding work there leaves much to be desired. According to FanGraphs, Callaspo has played 2368.2 innings at second base but grades incredibly poorly there with a career UZR/150 of -9.0, -28 defensive runs saved, and a plus/minus runs saved above average of -27.

That all said, while MLB Trade Rumors notes that a one-year commitment to Alberto Callaspo likely wouldn’t be out of the question and he could come cheaply given his performance last seaason, one has to ask if it would be money well spent. Callaspo made $4.87 million last year in his final year of arbitration and given the state of the market, it would be hard to assume he would take much more of a pay cut from that point.

The other half of that coin is the redundancy in adding a player like Callaspo unless you are assuming he would be released should he not work out. The Blue Jays already have a super utility player in Maicer Izturis who grades out better defensively at second and is under contract through 2015, thus making him a better placeholder at the position if the anticipation is that Travis will be ready to assume it at some point this season. Additionally, Ryan Goins also could serve as a stop-gap option if that is the plan.

The second base market remains week in the middle ground, with converted shortstops Jed Lowrie and Asdrubal Carbera likely representing the best options there. Additionally, a return of former Blue Jay Emilio Bonifacio could provide more upside that Callaspo at this stage, given his ability to play the outfield, but it is equally doubtful that the Blue Jays will go back down that road again.