With dwindling options, Tyler Naquin makes some sense for the Blue Jays

Sep 4, 2021; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Cincinnati Reds pinch hitter Tyler Naquin (12) runs to third base after hitting a two run triple against the Detroit Tigers during the seventh inning at Great American Ball Park. Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 4, 2021; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Cincinnati Reds pinch hitter Tyler Naquin (12) runs to third base after hitting a two run triple against the Detroit Tigers during the seventh inning at Great American Ball Park. Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports /
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If the Blue Jays are intent on landing a left-handed bat to give their lineup some balance, they could do worse than calling the Reds about Tyler Naquin.

He’s not a sexy name like Freddie Freeman or Kyle Schwarber, but Naquin could be the kind of hitter that would make a difference for the Blue Jays. With the presence of sluggers like Vladimir Guerrero Jr., George Springer, Bo Bichette, Teoscar Hernandez, and more, they don’t necessarily need a massive star, but Naquin does have a skill set that could fit nicely in Toronto this season.

I realize that I literally just wrote about how the Blue Jays should be fine standing pat, but as I said in that article, Ross Atkins and the front office don’t have to shut off their phones for the winter either, and a player like Naquin could make some sense. Last season he slashed .270/.333/.477 with 19 home runs, 24 doubles, and 70 RBI over the course of 127 games, which covered 411 at-bats. He tends to be a bit of a streaky hitter at times, but in a role like this the Blue Jays could back his playing time off a bit if he was struggling.

The 30 year old also has the ability to cover all three outfield positions, and spent most of his time in centre field last year. Unfortunately he’s not a great defender by any means, but he’d certainly be capable of picking up the glove to give a half-day off to one of the other talented-hitting outfielders. He probably makes the most sense in the designated hitter role, and likely exclusively in a platoon (he hit .197 against southpaws last year), but again, the Jays don’t need a major piece of the puzzle here.

Looking at how the Reds have approached their offseason, I’m pretty convinced they’d be willing to part with Naquin without receiving much back in return. They’ve already traded a few of their best players like Jesse Winker and Sonny Gray, as they appear ready to tear things down in a rebuild scenario. Perhaps that means another lefty slugger could be available in Joey Votto as well, but that situation is a lot more complicated.

The biggest differences are that Naquin is playing on an expiring contract, and one that spotrac.com estimates will pay him just 3.5 million in 2022. He’ll be a free agent at the age of 31 at the end of the season, while Votto has two years at 25 million per year left on his deal as a 38 year old, and it also includes an option for 2024 at 20 million with a seven million dollar buyout. That means Votto is guaranteed 57 million over the next two seasons, so as I said, it’s a lot more complicated than someone like Naquin.

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As I mentioned in my article earlier today, I’m perfectly fine with the Blue Jays standing pat at this point, at least until the trade market heats up this summer. However, if they’re intent on finding a left-handed bat that could help bring some balance to the lineup, they could do worse than Tyler Naquin, and he might even be readily available.