Fantasy Baseball Diamond Market: Blue Jays demote Eric Thames
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On Tuesday, the Toronto Blue Jays optioned Eric Thames to Triple-A Las Vegas. John Farrell was vocal about his needs for a backup middle infielder and an extra relief pitcher, according to the National Post; Mike McCoy takes care of the former, and he can play in the outfield to cover the loss of Thames.
The club hasn't deemed injuries to Kelly Johnson (tweaked hamstring) and Yunel Escobar (strained groin) serious enough to put them on the DL. They're debilitating enough that Farrell doesn't believe he can rely upon his regular middle infielders, however.
Thames, the second notable player whom the Blue Jays have demoted, after Adam Lind, was hitting .243 with three home runs. Only 11 of his 36 hits this season have gone for extra bases, putting him on pace for what would easily be the worst slugging percentage of his career in a full season at any level. This month, he's posted a .193/.227/.301 slash line in 88 plate appearances. Strangely, despite the abysmal performance, Thames continued to hit in a semi-prime lineup spot.
As the papers state, it's not clear how long the left-handed hitter will be on the farm, but it seems unlikely that this will be a short stay. He'll likely receive plenty of time to demonstrate that he's fixing his approach or swing to fit the Jays' idea of what it should look like. There's no reason to hang on to Thames outside AL leagues.
The immediate beneficiary of Thames' exit is Rajai Davis, the right-handed hitter who was expected to enter last season as the starting center fielder and leadoff man. This year, he's hit .220 with two home runs and eight stolen bases in 64 plate appearances while serving as an occasional starter and oft-used pinch runner.
Davis, 31, still brings the blazing speed that makes him a threat to steal multiple bases every time he reaches. Since his arrival in Toronto, however, his contact rate has dropped several points and his swinging-strike rate has risen a few points, likely because he's struggled to adopt the changes to his swing that Toronto asked him to make. Although it's possible that he'll go on a hot streak and convince the organization that he can be at least a short-term solution, it's unlikely to happen.
The likelier recipient of a boost in playing time north of the border, eventually, is Travis Snider. The former top prospect lost a battle for the left-field job in ST but has done little besides hit for the Las Vegas Stars since then. Good numbers don't comprise an amazing feat in that particular PCL town, but his rates of walks and K's this year are encouraging.
That's particularly true because wrist pain is likely to blame for Snider's cold spell in May. The soreness in the left-handed hitter's wrist has him on the seven-day DL after he was in and out of the lineup. The organization didn't initially consider the ailment serious, but he hasn't played in nearly two weeks.
Once - if - Snider is healthy, he'd likely need to prove it for only a short spell before the Blue Jays summon him. He'd have to demonstrate that the wrist is no longer an issue as well as that he can resume his early-season performance - and approach - easily.
This past Sunday, DH Vladimir Guerrero moved from extended spring training to Class A Dunedin and is expected to advance to a higher level by the end of the week. He could be ready to join the Blue Jays next week and is kind of an option to replace Thames on the roster, ultimately, too.
The purchase of Guerrero's contract would be likelier to affect either David Cooper's or Yan Gomes' spot, however. Guerrero cannot play in the outfield. Much is TBD based on what unfolds in the coming days.
About Nicholas Minnix
Minnix is baseball editor and a fantasy football analyst at KFFL. He plays in LABR and Tout Wars and won the FSWA Baseball Industry Insiders League in 2010.
The University of Delaware alum is a regular guest on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio and Baltimore's WNST AM 1570. Follow @NicholasMinnix
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