With the Toronto Blue Jays’ roster beginning to look like the finished product, there are still a couple of holes left to fill.
Along with an extra arm in the rotation, the other role which will seemingly be added over the coming weeks is that of the fourth outfielder. With Daulton Varsho, George Springer and Kevin Kiermaier the starting trio, the depth behind them is pretty thin and currently comes in the form of Whit Merrifield or Cavan Biggio.
Along with players like Andrew McCutchen, Adam Duvall is a possibility to fill that fourth outfield spot. Coming off an injury shortened season with the Braves, the 34-year-old has been linked with the Phillies and the Red Sox in recent days, but there’s no reason why the Jays shouldn’t also be in the mix. The question is whether he would be a good addition?
Duvall enjoyed the best year of his career in 2021. He picked up a Gold Glove whilst playing for the Marlins and the Braves, and he also led the league in RBI in the same year - helping the Braves to the World Series.
Following this, and in part thanks to the brief lockout ahead of the 2022 season, Atlanta gave him the keys to the center field position. He started the year in rough form at the plate, with a .565 OPS in March/April and an even worse .494 in May. However, like many after the lockout impacted preseason, he exploded into life in June - hitting eight home runs and upping his OPS to .864. Things carried on this way in July, until a wrist injury cut short his season.
With that recent form potentially piquing the interest of the Jays, it’s clear that any new addition needs to stack up against left handed pitching. In that regard Duvall is around the average, possessing a career 101 wRC+, .771 OPS and .303 OBP.
Where Duvall possesses a clear edge on the Jays previous outfield options is in the field, where he possesses a career 22.7 UZR (compared to -22 and -4.7 for Teoscar Hernandez and Lourdes Gurriel Jr respectively). He’d slot in anywhere in the outfield as needed and the Jays could count on him being a solid piece of the puzzle after a couple of recent years as an everyday starter.
At this point in the offseason, there aren’t many options on the market with genuine ‘wow’ appeal. Duvall certainly isn’t that.
His elevated strikeout percentage - 31.1% in 2022 - and his inability to draw walks mean that he relies on his power to contribute offensively. The Jays have similar options in Vladdy, Brandon Belt and Matt Chapman, who are all more effective at the plate than Duvall.
Whilst his fielding numbers are also an improvement on several former Jays, the front office have seemingly addressed this already with the addition of Kiermaier and Varsho. So, whilst the addition of good defense seems to be a team trend, the argument might be that the fourth outfield should counter the loss of offense that occurred with the Hernández and Gurriel Jr trades.
Injuries may also be a concern, especially with Springer and Kiermaier possessing a track record in the treatment room.
For a player that is just one season removed from contributing on a World Series winning team, it is perhaps surprising that Duvall hasn’t been taken off the market yet.
There’s certainly a fit on the Jays, as his good defense and excellent power chime in with the front office’s recent priorities. However, it’s hard not to look at the huge K% and dips at the plate when considering that this team may need consistency if the fourth outfielder is forced to play everyday.
This move wouldn’t be a disaster, in fact it’d probably be well received, but it feels like Duvall might not be top of the Jays’ shopping list right at this moment.