Toronto Blue Jays News

Blue Jays: What this next chapter means for Devon Travis

TORONTO, ON - APRIL 17: Devon Travis #29 of the Toronto Blue Jays crosses home plate as he scores a run on a sacrifice fly RBI by Yangervis Solarte #26 in the sixth inning during MLB game action against the Kansas City Royals at Rogers Centre on April 17, 2018 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - APRIL 17: Devon Travis #29 of the Toronto Blue Jays crosses home plate as he scores a run on a sacrifice fly RBI by Yangervis Solarte #26 in the sixth inning during MLB game action against the Kansas City Royals at Rogers Centre on April 17, 2018 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) /
facebooktwitterreddit

Devon Travis was recalled by the Blue Jays before their game on Tuesday night, opening an important new chapter in his MLB career.

If you had told me a couple months ago that Devon Travis would absent from the Blue Jays’ roster in the middle of May, I would have assumed he’d suffered another injury. That wasn’t the case for the Blue Jays’ second baseman, as a healthy start was still a pretty rough one, resulting in an eventual demotion to Triple-A Buffalo to get things on track.

The results weren’t exactly there on paper, but there were some encouraging signs more recently. Overall he hit just .210 while in Buffalo, sporting a .509 OPS to boot. He did have hits in eight straight games before his call-up though, so perhaps the scouting and coaching staffs were more encouraged than the overall numbers show. Regardless, he was back in Toronto and batting ninth on Tuesday, but unfortunately went 0-3 in his first game back, striking out twice.

Second base has always been Travis’ position with the Blue Jays, and as recently as April he was also the first choice as the lead off man. While nearly everyone believes in his talent, the front office had no choice but to go out and get some insurance policies in Yangervis Solarte and Aledmys Diaz this offseason, and it’s a good thing they did. Solarte in particular has performed very well in Toronto, hitting 10 home runs and adding 29 RBI already, while routinely occupying either the 3rd or 4th spot in John Gibbons‘ lineup.

More from Jays Journal

We’re a long way from such a scenario materializing, but if there ever comes a day that the entire Blue Jays roster is healthy, it might be hard to find playing time for Travis. Such a thing seemed unimaginable a year ago, but with a healthy Josh Donaldson at third it’s pushed Solarte back to second base a lot in the last few weeks. While he’s cooled off from his hot start, the switch-hitter has become an important piece to the Blue Jays’ lineup. He’s not terribly well-suited for shortstop either, and if Troy Tulowitzki and Aledmyz Diaz are both healthy then they’ve got that covered, in theory.

For Travis, the immediate term could be very important in proving his worth to the Blue Jays. He’ll need to earn his playing time, and even his position on the roster, and it sounds like he’s fully aware of that.

I’m not saying the Blue Jays are going to cut him or anything silly like that, but I do think he’ll have to earn his position on the depth chart, both in the short and long term. He’ll need to play well enough to justify sitting someone else in 2018, and with infielders like Bo Bichette, Lourdes Gurriel, Kevin Smith, Logan Warmoth, and others impressing throughout the system, he’ll need to impress for consideration beyond this season. I’m not saying that list is MLB ready right now (Gurriel likely is), but they’re closer than you might think, especially Bichette.

This next chapter will be about proving he can stay healthy, and that he can be the hitter we’ve enjoyed in Toronto when he’s been healthy. I’m definitely a fan of his skill set when he’s right, and I’m nowhere near ready to give up on the guy at this point. That said, the Blue Jays’ front office, and eventually even yours truly, will run out patience waiting for him to be that guy.

Next: Morales and the only trade fit I can find

If he can play up to his potential, anyone could use a .300 hitter with excellent bat control. If he can’t, he could find himself on the outside of the Blue Jays plans. Here’s hoping he gets into an early groove at the plate and makes me look like a fool for ever suggesting such a thing.

facebooktwitterreddit