Could Blue Jays revisit old flame Domonic Brown?


The Toronto Blue Jays are familiar with Domonic Brown, the once-untouchable top prospect in all of baseball who recently elected free agency after being outrighted by the Philadelphia Phillies. Now 28 years old and on the open market, has Brown fallen completely out of consideration, or would Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos cap off the ultimate long game by trying to catch lightning in a bottle?

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Upon taking the job in October of 2009, Anthopoulos was met with the unenviable task of trading franchise player Roy Halladay. Toronto was linked heavily to Brown in those negotiations, with the Phillies balking at any talks of moving the outfielder supposedly destined for superstardom. Instead, outfield prospect Michael Taylor came over in the deal with Kyle Drabek and Travis d’Arnaud.

Brown’s name would resurface again following the 2013 season, amidst rumors that the Jays were “deep in serious talks” with the Phillies for a deal centred around Jose Bautista. The return was believed to be Dominic Brown “plus”. The rumor turned out to be nothing, perhaps even downright fabricated, but there was the Jays-Brown link again.

At that time, Brown was coming off an All-Star season in which he hit .272 with 27 home runs, finally cracking into the power potential of his 6’5″, 200 pound frame at the Major League level. In his 2010 season, which catapulted him into full top-prospect status in 93 games between AA and AAA, Brown hit 20 home runs with a .980 OPS and 17 stolen bases.

Since then, however, he’s been awful. Across the 2014 and 2015 seasons, Brown recorded a triple-slash of .233 / .285 / .349. This has plummeted his career WAR to -1.6. On top of his steep decline at the plate, Brown has been one of the worst defensive outfielders in baseball. We’re talking “send the kids into the other room so they don’t see this” bad.

So, why bother? The Justin Smoak signing showed that the Blue Jays are not scared off by fallen prospects with flawed offensive games, and if Brown would have any interest in a minor league deal, the risk is extremely low. Long live minor league deals, I say.

Additionally, brown is a left-handed bat, something that the Blue Jays could certainly afford to add more of to their system. His career OPS of .737 is over 100 points higher than his lefty-on-lefty numbers, and in Brook Jacoby, the Blue Jays have a hitting coach worth trusting with the odd long shot project.

The outfield logjam would obviously leave this as a pure depth move, so the Blue Jays could be trumped by a bolder team willing to give Brown a greater opportunity in terms of competition for a roster spot. I’ve long been a sucker for fallen prospects, however, which isn’t the best hobby to pick up, and Brown represents the ultimate buy-low refurb job. In a flooded pool of low-end free agents, this is one name worth keeping a curious eye on.

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