The Blue Jays announced on Tuesday that Dalton Pompey has been designated for assignment, a move that makes little sense to me at this time.
Pitching has been the biggest problem for the Toronto Blue Jays this season, especially in their starting rotation that has been decimated by injuries.
The second biggest problem, and one that would rival the rotation, has been in the outfield. Prior to the emergence of Lourdes Gurriel Jr. in left field after his return from Buffalo, the Blue Jays’ outfield picture was a complete mess. It looks slightly better now that Gurriel Jr. seems like a permanent fixture in left field, and thankfully Randal Grichuk has looked a lot more like the player that was handed a five-year extension earlier this year than the one that had fans pulling their hair out earlier in the season.
But what about centre field?
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Lately that job has gone to Teoscar Hernandez, and while I’ll concede that he’s been much better than I expected, the idea of him being the long-term solution in centre field seems pretty far-fetched. I don’t blame the Blue Jays for wanting to see more of him before making a decision on his future either, but he’s hardly established himself as a permanent fixture going forward.
For that reason, I’ll admit that I am very upset to see the news that the Blue Jays have designated Dalton Pompey for assignment, which was announced early Tuesday afternoon.
On one hand, I understand the decision as Pompey hadn’t been able to fulfil the promise that made him such an exciting prospect back in 2014 and 2015, but that’s mostly been because of injuries.
He’s suffered three concussions during that time, which has kept him on the sidelines a great deal. The Canadian outfielder has had to work very hard just to get back on the diamond, and he has looked pretty good in Buffalo through his first 19 at-bats, picking up six hits.
On the other, the timing of letting go of a potential outfield asset doesn’t make much sense, especially because they could have made room for him on the roster if they chose to. Sure, maybe the Blue Jays want to have a better look at Billy McKinney as well, but he has minor league options and sending him down would have made room for Pompey on the 25-man roster.
The bigger obstacle was that they would have had to make room on the 40-man roster, but with nine days to go before the July 31st trade deadline, we know there is going to be a lot of roster shuffling coming up. It’s possible that the reason the Blue Jays delayed the announcement for so long was because they were working on a trade involving Pompey, or perhaps with another player on the 40-man roster, which would have created the space they needed to keep him. We’ve already seen some roster shuffles and DFAs happening across the big leagues this week, and maybe the Blue Jays feel like they have a chance to slip Pompey through waivers because of that.
More likely though, there will be an outfield-needy team that will take a chance on a cheap asset, especially because he won’t cost them anything to pick up.
"“At his best, Pompey is a dynamic five-tool player who can hit for average, with power, speed, good defensive ability and a strong throwing arm.”"
I’ll readily admit that we haven’t seen him “at his best” in a Blue Jays uniform, and he may never fulfil the promise that he’s shown as a youngster. However, it feels very short-sighted to me to give up on him when he’s finally healthy, especially when the need for competent outfielders still exists. Making room on the 40-man roster would have been tough, but would trading someone like Daniel Hudson a week early have made a huge impact on their return? Is Jonathan Davis that much better of a prospect than Pompey? Maybe I’m wrong, but I just feel like there’s a way they could have kept him.
I know there are some fans and writers out there who will point to his stats, his injury history, and the limited space on the 40-man roster. And who knows, maybe he will pass through waivers and stay in the organization, but that feels unlikely to me. On a personal level, he’s shown that he’s a man of character and class, and I hate seeing the Blue Jays let a guy like that go, especially when his tools could still allow him to be a successful big leaguer. I’ll certainly be rooting for him, wherever he lands.