With Devon Travis back on the disabled list, should the Blue Jays take another look at Brett Lawrie as an option at second base?
If it feels like we’ve already talked about this in 2017, it’s because we have. When Josh Donaldson was injured earlier in the season, many Blue Jays fans called for the front office to possibly look at re-signing Brett Lawrie, who had been released by the Chicago White Sox at the end of spring training. The Jays elected not to make that move, and instead relied on the likes of Darwin Barney, Chris Coghlan, and some creative solutions like Russell Martin and Jose Bautista at third base.
Donaldson is back now, and hopefully he’ll be able to stay healthy for the remainder of the campaign, so the situation at third base is no longer a concern. However, the Blue Jays are now dealing with another injury to Devon Travis, and at the moment there has been no update on his progress or expected DL time. Given his lengthy injury history, especially with the injured knee, and it’s unlikely that we’ll see him back any time soon.
With that in mind, the Blue Jays have had to turn back to the likes of Barney, and Ryan Goins at second base. Both players have performed admirably this season, but neither is ideally suited as a starter. Goins has been outstanding with the glove as usual, but is slashing just .210/.272/.333 this season, and Barney is at .218/.256/.277, with neither performing up to the standards of a lineup regular.
At this stage we really don’t know how long Travis is going to be out, but the prognosis isn’t good. While the team has been pretty silent on the issue, speculation online reads like he’s lost for the remainder of the season. Hopefully that won’t be the case, but there’s no denying the issues that the talented infielder has faced with his troublesome knee.
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When Lawrie was cut from the Chicago White Sox, he and his agent expressed that he wouldn’t be seeking a contract right away, which would allow him time to fully heal from the soft-tissue discomfort in his lower body (mlbtraderumours.com), and to look for the right opportunity. Despite not living up to the hype, Lawrie is still a useful big leaguer, and is talented enough to receive regular playing time somewhere in the MLB.
That said, his talent hasn’t been enough to land him another opportunity yet, and we’re just over 40% through with the 2017 season. Unfortunately in Lawrie’s case, his reputation may be hurting his case for his next job, and likely has a lot to do with why the Blue Jays have shied away as well.
The 27 year old spent last season with the White Sox and hit .248/.310/.413 with 12 home runs and 36 RBI in 94 games, playing exclusively at second base. For his career he sits at .261/.315/.419 in a combined 6 seasons between the White Sox, Oakland A’s, and the Blue Jays. When asked about the possibility of a reunion with the Blue Jays at the beginning of June, Lawrie stated, “I would love to be back“.
While I understand the reluctance of the Blue Jays to bring in a player like Lawrie, I have to wonder if sitting out almost half a season might have been exactly what he needed. The biggest criticism of the Canadian-born player has always been his “bravado”, and it’s hard to imagine that his confidence would be at an all-time high right now. You wouldn’t want a downtrodden Lawrie to join the club, but a slightly more humbled version could be a very good thing.
He’s also going to be very cheap this year, if and when he signs somewhere. He was due to make 3.5 million in Chicago this season, but could sign for the minimum anywhere now. He’s also an unrestricted free agent next season, so there is plenty of incentive for him to get back on the field, perform well, and most of all, change the narrative around his attitude.
Toronto may very well be the best place for him to do that. They could have the starting job that he seeks, assuming Travis is going to be out for awhile as it appears, and the veteran leadership to help avoid distractions.
I still don’t see the Blue Jays making this move, but it does feel like it makes a lot more sense now than it did when Donaldson was out earlier in the season. We’ve seen stranger things in the Blue Jays lineup this season, why not consider bringing back the Langley native to play second base?