The Toronto Blue Jays have had an unconventional offseason to say the least as they still find themselves plugging holes with less than two weeks before pitchers and catchers are slated to report to spring training.
Many of the rumblings and rumours did not come to fruition as the Blue Jays searched for ways to get younger, faster and more athletic in the always competitive American League East.
The Jays bid adieu to Canadian Michael Saunders who patrolled left field last season and was also mired in a dreadful slump for pretty much the entire second half of the 2016 season. The speedy trio of internal replacements have been discussed at length and honestly all come with their faults.
The front-runner would have to be the veteran Melvin Upton who has been a regular in the past however frequently forgets how to hit and always seems to have two strikes on him after the first two offerings in every single at bat.
Ezequiel Carrera impressed during the postseason albeit a small sample size but presumably would be exposed by major league pitching in a full-time role. The left-handed Carrera actually hits southpaws better than right-handed pitchers traditionally throughout his career. He sports a career .286 average versus LHP and a .245 average when pitted against RHP.
Canadian Dalton Pompey has also been mentioned in the same breath as Upton and Carrera for the left-field duties but would need an impressive camp in Dunedin to climb the depth chart.
So here sits the possibility of signing veteran free agent outfielder Angel Pagan, who may come at a discount this late in the offseason. It would also allow John Gibbons to keep the internal outfield alternatives relegated to bench duties where their speed could be exploited on the base paths or as late game defensive replacements.
The 35-year old Pagan is an 11-year veteran having spent the last five seasons with the San Francisco Giants. Pagan brings a gritty, blue-collar work ethic to the field and is coming off a decent season with the Giants that saw him hit .277 in 129 games.
Pagan swiped 15 bases in 19 chances and slugged 12 home runs while posting a respectable .750 OPS in 543 plate appearances in 2016. Last seasons home run output was a career best for Pagan who had previously never hit more than 11 round-trippers in a season.
Gone are the days where Pagan will steal you 30+ bags but he is still a serviceable option on both sides of the diamond if he can stay healthy. Pagan is a professional hitter with a .280/.330/.408 slash line and a 17 WAR for his career.
Pagan has faced Clayton Kershaw more than any other pitcher throughout his career. In 71 plate appearances the veteran outfielder is a career .290 hitter with 20 hits including five doubles and a home run versus arguably the best pitcher on the planet. On the flip-side the Blue Jays very own Melvin Upton is batting .133 in 15 career plate appearances with 10 whiffs versus Kershaw.
In 2016, Pagan earned $11.250 million but if the Jays can persuade the 35-year old to take a pay-cut to play for a contender, he just may be the angel in the outfield the Blue Jays were searching for.