Toronto Blue Jays News

Reports: Blue Jays interested in Dexter Fowler, Jay Bruce

kmatheson12
Nov 4, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Cubs center fielder Dexter Fowler (24) talks during the World Series victory rally in Grant Park. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 4, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Cubs center fielder Dexter Fowler (24) talks during the World Series victory rally in Grant Park. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports /
facebooktwitterreddit

There is smoke around the Toronto Blue Jays following Tuesday’s Yoenis Cespedes deal

The Toronto Blue Jays are showing “strong interest” in free agent outfielder Dexter Fowler, Jon Heyman reports.

Fowler now represents the market’s top available outfielder with the Mets re-signing Yoenis Cespedes, and is expected to earn a lucrative contract of at least four years.

In a quieter move on Tuesday, the Chicago Cubs signed outfielder Jon Jay to a one-year, $8 million deal that makes Fowler’s return to the World Series champions much less likely. His price tag will be significant, but more than any other top-end free agent, Fowler embodies exactly what the Blue Jays are looking for.

More from Jays Journal

The 30-year-old is an athletic switch-hitter who is fully capable of batting leadoff, something the Blue Jays are reportedly targeting this off-season. Fowler posted an excellent .393 on-base percentage in 2016, a career high. That number has dipped below .360 just once over the past six seasons, and with the natural power to hit 15+ home runs annually, Fowler is far from a slap-and-sprint leadoff man.

Over the past two seasons, Fowler has produced a combined 8.0 Wins Above Replacement. His defence should appeal to the Blue Jays, as well, and would represent a big upgrade over Jose Bautista and Michael Saunders in the corner outfields from last season.

One potential hurdle between the two sides is Fowler’s position, as he has played over 8,000 major-league innings in centre-field and just one in right. A centre-fielder in their 30s moving to the corner for a superior defender (Kevin Pillar) is far from uncommon, but if Fowler is determined to stay in centre, that does create a snag.

— More on Jay Bruce —

The Toronto Blue Jays and Jay Bruce is the link that refuses to die, and at this point, the two sides may simply be waiting out the inevitable.

Jerry Crasnick of ESPN reports that the Blue Jays are making a push for Bruce yet again.

Once Cespedes signed, the clear corresponding move for the Mets was to move an outfielder as they now have a surplus at the position. Bruce is due $13 million after his 2017 option was picked up by New York, and given their minimal leverage, the acquisition cost should not be high. Like Melvin Upton, this could be a situation where an interested team can lessen the financial responsibility by sending a slightly more desirable asset the other way.

Bruce hit 33 home runs with 99 RBI between Cincinnati and New York last season, but does remain extremely limited defensively. The 29-year-old was worth -11 Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) in right field last season, and unless there is a trickle-down way to use him often as a DH, Bruce doesn’t exactly fit the Blue Jays’ stated off-season goals.

Next: Cespedes deal sparking Encarnacion's market

Another option New York has is to shop veteran outfielder Curtis Granderson, who will be due $15 million in the final year of his deal and could fetch a stronger return.

Granderson hit 30 home runs in 2016 with a .799 OPS, and with his defence still a capable tool, Granderson was worth 2.6 fWAR.

facebooktwitterreddit