The Blue Jays had to make a decision between Melvin Upton and Ryan Goins for the final roster spot prior to Opening Day, and ultimately went with the latter, cutting Upton loose.
Opening Day has come and go for the Toronto Blue Jays with a 3-2 loss to the Orioles, but that doesn’t mean we should stop thinking about the way the roster is constructed. Every club has to start somewhere, but it’s very common for additional moves to take place in the first couple weeks of a new season.
With that in mind, while I was reading Blue Jays Nation, I saw a mention of Gideon Turk of BP Toronto having an interesting article published on Sunday, outlining the Blue Jays thought process behind their final position player decision. It’s possible there was more than meets the eye to the decision to cut Melvin Upton loose in favour of Ryan Goins.
There are/were several theories about why the decision was made, with most of us settling on positional versatility, and the Blue Jays’ desire to move on from Upton’s propensity to strike out. As I’ve mentioned in several other articles here at the Journal, the Blue Jays’ middle infield of Devon Travis and Troy Tulowitzki both have a history of injuries, so the desire to keep keystone depth makes sense.
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However, Turk mentions in the article that it was more than that, and the Blue Jays’ brass was trying to make another trade prior to the season’s first game. He mentions that both Goins and Upton were on the shopping block, and that Upton had basically no interest. Goins on the other hand, had enough interest that, “One American League team was even intent on trading for Goins and giving him a short term starting role before settling him into their utility role once their club returned to health.”
With that in mind, the decision makes a lot more sense, as the Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins were able to gauge the market for both players, It’s no surprise that they did this, whether they ultimately wanted to shop either player, which is appears they may have in both cases.
"“One American League team was even intent on trading for Goins and giving him a short term starting role before settling him into their utility role once their club returned to health.”"
Knowing the interest in Goins and not getting a suitable return in a trade, the club knew that if he were released he would be a lost asset. In the case of Upton, it remains a possibility he could return, if either party is interested in a reunion.
Turk also mentions the possibility that the Jays could continue to shop Goins, which also makes sense. As much as both he and Darwin Barney are valued by the Blue Jays, their skill sets are fairly redundant and Barney offers more on on the offensive side of the ball. If the Blue Jays can acquire a serviceable asset in return for Goins, it wouldn’t be surprising to see another move made.
The biggest key to all of this could be the play of Justin Smoak at first base. If he’s able to perform admirably, it allows the Blue Jays to use Steve Pearce in left field more often, lengthening the outfield depth picture. If Smoak can’t warrant a starting position, or even a roster spot, then Pearce will likely spend the bulk of his time at first base. Such a trickle down effect would necessitate adding another outfielder, which means Goins would have to move.
Both Goins and Barney have added the corner outfield to their repertoire, but neither should be relied on to play out there on a regular basis. They’re not outfielders, and despite their plus abilities in the infield, it takes regular reps in order to maximize your production at any position. Tack on the fact that neither offers the type of offensive output expected of a corner outfielder, and the Jays will eventually make a move.
The decision has been delayed for now and may not come right away, but it appears the Ryan Goins decision could be far from over. Assuming Turk’s report is all accurate, the way the Blue Jays have handled the situation makes a lot more sense, even to the Goins’ biggest critics.