Blue Jays: What to do with Devon Travis

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - MAY 7: Second baseman Devon Travis
ST. PETERSBURG, FL - MAY 7: Second baseman Devon Travis /

Devon Travis has shown flashes of brilliance during his young MLB career, but unfortunately injuries have a been major issue for the second baseman. What should the Blue Jays do to try and keep him on the field in 2018 and beyond?

The Blue Jays have begun what should be an interesting offseason, and one that will likely see the front office pursue some tweaks with the goal in mind of returning to the postseason in 2018. After an injury ravaged season, the majority of the group will be back to try to rectify what went wrong this season and prove that the window of contention has not closed in Toronto.

There will be some changes and some of the solutions that come from outside of the organization, but there are several current players who will return in 2018 with something to prove. Aaron Sanchez was held to just eight starts in 2017, and Troy Tulowitzki aims to prove that he’s still an elite MLB shortstop, and that he can stay on the field more than he’s been able to since being traded to Toronto.

As far as the offence was concerned, I would argue that the biggest injury this season was to Devon Travis, their leadoff hitter and starting second baseman. The 26 year old was lighting the world on fire at the plate when he went down with a knee injury in early June, and unfortunately he was never able to make it back to the field. The team thought he might make it back late in the season, but a set back shut him down until spring training gets underway again next year.

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The Blue Jays expect both Travis and Tulowitzki to be healthy and ready to resume the keystone in 2018, but how much can they rely on the duo to stay off the DL? They combined to play in just 116 games this past season, and the team had to rely on Darwin Barney and Ryan Goins to make the majority of starts. While they did an admirable job filling in, neither is a significant asset with the bat and that’s where the team missed their starters the most.

Travis is/was doubly important because of his approach at the plate, which is pretty rare in a lineup of power hitters. When he’s rolling, he’s the type of table setter that can make or break the Blue Jays’ lineup on plenty of nights, and his loss was massive for the top of the lineup. I don’t think I have to remind you how long Jose Bautista spent as the leadoff hitter, even when he was struggling to hit above the Mendoza line.

As for Travis (and Tulo), the front office is in a difficult spot, and they acknowledged as much at the end of the year presser. Ross Atkins mentioned that Travis is the type of player that has to be on the field when he’s healthy, which I think we can all agree on. However, it’s difficult to rely on him being there consistently, especially when even the medical staff is telling him that he’ll have issues throughout his career.

It’s a position that the front office will look to shore up for 2018, whether they want to or not, and likely in the form of greater depth. They do have youngsters like Richard Urena and Lourdes Gourriel waiting in the wings, but both could use more seasoning, especially if the Jays hope to contend next year.

There have been rumblings of moving Travis to the outfield as well, but that doesn’t make a lot of sense if you ask me. He runs reasonably well, but he’s not a speedster either, so he wouldn’t be an ideal corner outfielder in any way really. Corner outfielders are generally either power hitters, or speed/leadoff types, and Travis doesn’t quite fit that mold.

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No, his best shot at his career continuing to arch in a positive manner would be to remain at second base, and hopefully get some better luck in the health department. If there’s one thing the Blue Jays can do to help this along, it’s to extend the depth in the middle infield and perhaps give their spark plug more regular rest. Hopefully that way we can finally see him for a full season, something he’s been unable to do in his 3 years as a big leaguer.