Blue Jays Release Andy Dirks
Baseball can be a cruel business, sometimes. Players go out and put their body through intense workouts, crashing into walls, getting drilled by 95mph fastballs, etc. They put themselves through a lot. Sometimes, a player’s body can be his worst enemy. With that comes the potential for injury. And when injury strikes, MLB teams have decisions to make. One such decision came today.
The Toronto Blue Jays have parted ways with minor league outfielder, Andy Dirks according to Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet. After claiming him on waivers back in October, and non-tendered him in December before signing him to a minor league deal in January. Apparently, Dirks will require another surgery on his back that will see him miss the entire 2015 season.
Dirks was slated to begin in AAA Buffalo, but was on the DL while trying to return from his 2014 surgery. Obviously, this is a devastating blow for Dirks and his career. After getting in only 14 games in 2014, it was hoped that he would be able to come back and possibly contribute to the big league outfield down the road. It would have been a pleasant surprise for a roster that could use some depth.
Dirks (when healthy) provides a lefty bat that provides a bit of pop. His best season was in 2012 where he hit .322 for the Tigers in 88 games. That season, he collected 8 HR and 5 triples. In Detroit’s minor system, he is a career .289 hitter with a .350 OBP. He is also a decent enough corner outfielder given that his last season of big league action saw him put up a UZR/150 of 13.1 in LF and 13.3 in RF.
Indeed, Dirks would have been a good piece of depth for the Blue Jays. Instead, the club if left with options that are less than ideal like Ryan Goins playing left field. When Michael Saunders comes back, which looks to be very soon, situations like Goins in the outfield will not be the norm. Kevin Pillar, Dalton Pompey and Michael Saunders will all see time along with Jose Bautista. But, then what? Bautista may be facing some DL time at the moment. As Blue Jay fans are all too familiar, depth to cover injuries can be what separates middling teams from the ones that compete.
Is there enough depth? The Blue Jays can probably handle a brief stint on the DL from Bautista. But, if anyone else goes down for a significant time, the likes of Steve Tolleson and Goins are not going to cut it. They club will be forced to look at guys in AAA like Ezequiel Carrera, Chris Dickerson, Caleb Gindl (who had a good spring) and Brad Glenn. Obviously, in the run of a 162 game season, call ups will be made, which is why the addition of Dirks, presuming health, would have been nice.
Toronto Blue Jays
As well, it is curious as to what exactly the Blue Jays hoped to get out of Dirks. His health was a question mark from the beginning. Then, they played the letting him go, bringing him back game. There is an interesting piece by Anthony Cacchione that uses the example of the Orioles and Jake Luce to show that baseball can be an emotionless business that uses players as chess pieces. In the example provided, Cucchione thinks the Orioles may have signed Luce to a deal just to keep him away from other teams. Then, they released him even though he was having a good showing in Spring Training. Long story short, they let him go with no seemingly real notion of ever keeping him. Thus, the business side of baseball.
I’m not suggesting that the Blue Jays did this with Dirks. But, it is curious that they took a flier on a guy who was not healthy, then brought him back and now are releasing him to have his surgery and heal without a job. The waiver claim would have been a good one if he were healthy. He would have been a great pick up. But, what are the chances that they thought he actually would be?