Now that a few of the top free agent outfielder options are off the board, the Blue Jays would be wise to see what they have in-house in Dalton Pompey
The offseason hasn’t gone exactly as planned for the Toronto Blue Jays so far, but with 30 teams all trying to improve their rosters at once, it’s rarely an easy task, especially before the calendar turns over.
The Blue Jays entered the offseason looking for one or two outfielders, a back-up catcher, some bullpen pieces, and help at the 1B/DH position. After signing Kendrys Morales to fill the DH position, and bringing in Steve Pearce to shore up first base, things have slowed down considerably on the Blue Jays hot stove.
With the presence of Melvin Upton and Ezequiel Carrera, the Blue Jays knew they had to get at least one outfielder to fill the vacancies left by Jose Bautista and Michael Saunders, but they don’t HAVE to bring in two. Carrera performed admirably as a starter down the stretch and into the playoffs, and could get a fair shot to retain the position in spring training. Upton is best served as a platoon partner hitting against LH pitching, and bringing above average outfield defence.
However, neither player has the upside of the third in-house outfield option, Dalton Pompey. By now most Blue Jays fans are familiar with the Canadian switch-hitter, after he began the 2015 season as the starting centre-fielder. Unfortunately, the Missisauga native was unable to secure a job at that point, but he could be ready to take the reins in 2017.
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Having just turned 24 in December, Pompey has the type of skill set the Blue Jays entered the off-season looking for. Over the course of seven seasons in the minor leagues, Pompey has a career slash line of .281/.367/.406, with 154 stolen bases. He’s flashed plus ability on the bases in limited opportunities in Toronto as well, bringing a badly-needed element of speed. He’s a natural centre-fielder, so he should offer about-average defence in an outfielder corner, and he is a switch hitter.
The problem of course, is that the Blue Jays are in “win-now” mode, and would prefer not to enter the season with an unproven commodity. However, when you survey the available options in free agency (especially the ones who fit what the Blue Jays wanted at the beginning of the offseason), the pickings are getting slim.
Here’s a look at a few of the “best” remaining options still on the market:
- Ben Revere– .217/.260/.300, 2, 24 RBI, 14 SB in 103 games. -1.2 WAR
- Alejandro de Aza– .205/.297/.321, 6 HR, 25 RBI, 4 SB in 130 games. -0.4 WAR
- Angel Pagan– .277/.311/.418, 12 HR, 55 RBI, 15 SB in 129 games. 1.0 WAR
There are other options of course, but not many of the “speed/defence/left-handed hitting” variety. Obviously the Blue Jays could alter their mandate of what they’re looking for, but even then the best options aren’t terribly inspiring.
- Rajai Davis– Negatives: bats RH, 35 years old, .306 OBP
- Austin Jackson– Negatives: bats RH, .318 OBP
- Brandon Moss– Negatives: .300 OBP, 1 SB, $
- Michael Saunders– Negatives: OF defence, terrible second half, $.
- Jose Bautista– Negatives: Age, $, Outfield defence, bats RH
- Colby Rasmus– Negatives: .286 OBP, 121 K’s in 369 AB’s
Looking at the available options, it makes Dalton Pompey seem more and more appealing. Couple that with the fact that he’ll be on a minimum salary, and those dollars could be allocated elsewhere (bullpen?), and it’s likely worth it to see what the kid has got. If Pompey doesn’t get a serious look in spring training this season, one has to wonder what his future may hold in Toronto.
The opportunity may never be greater for the young Canadian to grab a starting job in Toronto, even if it is by default.