Blue Jays: It’s foolish to count on Devon Travis in 2018

TORONTO, ON - MAY 26: Devon Travis
TORONTO, ON - MAY 26: Devon Travis /

The Toronto Blue Jays are heading into an off-season where there is going to be a ton of speculation in terms of what they do with Josh Donaldson, how they fill the outfield, and who they’ll bring into the organization to fill depth in both the rotation and bench.

One thing that has been not been talked about enough is Devon Travis and the plans for second base in 2018. Travis is fantastic when healthy but the Blue Jays would be foolish to count on Travis in 2018 and beyond.

Devon Travis has unfortunately been labeled as injury prone. I didn’t believe that label was necessarily fair to Travis, but after what John Gibbons had to say on Fan 590 today on the Jeff Blair Show, it’s officially fair to call Travis injury prone.

Based on the information revealed by John Gibbons today, the Blue Jays now need to look at 2nd base as a top priority to add to in 2018. It’s a shame that Travis cannot stay healthy because in 2015 he was worth 2.3 wins with a 136 wRC+ in 238 plate appearances. A season ago, Travis was even more valuable at 2.6 wins despite a lower 110 wRC+. He’s extremely productive, but if the Blue Jays make the mistake of counting on Travis to be healthy for even 100 games, we could see much of the same at 2nd base in 2018.

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Simply put, Ryan Goins and Darwin Barney are not the answer at 2nd base for the Blue Jays. Barney is a free agent when the 2017 playoffs end and should not be back. Ryan Goins will likely be back and if he’s not the primary option off the bench for 2nd base, that isn’t a bad thing. Goins can be a quality bench player but he is not good enough to be a starter long term in the event of a Devon Travis injury in 2018. We’ve seen that the past two seasons.

All of this means the Blue Jays need to search this off-season for an answer at 2nd base, someone they can count on for at 120 games minimum. In terms of those likely to hit the free agent market (no, Jose Altuve‘s option will not be declined), we see the following names:

There are other potential free agent candidates, but they’re not going to hit the market except for potentially Ian Kinsler, who would definitely be by far and away the best free agent 2nd baseman on the market. Beyond Kinsler and Neil Walker, there isn’t much on the free agent market in terms of having someone who could start for a prolonged period of time.

It is possible Howie Kendrick would be of interest due to his positional flexibility, and I could see the Blue Jays pursue Kendrick. He is a legit possibility of someone the Blue Jays could pursue to be a 2nd baseman and a super-utility guy when Travis is healthy. Neil Walker and Kinsler are possibilities as well, but I would be surprised if the Blue Jays spend the money to bring one of them in considering this second baseman would be at 2nd in an emergency. Kendrick fits what they’d need.

Beyond Howie Kendrick, there isn’t much there. They would then need to look trade and there are a few possibilities, but nobody better than Dee Gordon. Gordon would be a legitimate leadoff man, provide speed, and a bat from the left side of the plate. Gordon was worth 3.3 wins and stole 60 bases for the Marlins this season. He would be exactly what the Blue Jays need.

Based on what we heard today about Devon Travis, the Blue Jays would be extremely foolish to not pursue a reliable second baseman they can pencil in. If you bring in a second baseman and Travis ends up staying healthy, the Blue Jays will get creative and find at-bats for both guys. I’d rather be prepared for a Devon Travis injury than relying on another season of Ryan Goins everyday at 2nd base.

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The Blue Jays should pursue a 2nd baseman and I would be very surprised if they don’t end up with one. You cannot rely on Devon Travis if you’re looking to compete again in 2018.