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He was third wheel the Vernon Wells trade; the often forgotten man included in the deal from Los Angeles to Toronto.
Considering how fast and furious that trade was, it never really seemed like he was going to spend much time in a Blue Jays uniform. In fact, I bet there are some who are surprised he hasn’t been traded already; myself included.
Nothing against Juan Rivera the player, but it felt like he was “just passing through”; destined to be dealt by the trade deadline or walk a free agent by the end of the season.
Some may have rather Juan Rivera just flew right over the Blue Jays nest and landed on another team. All those things considered, he could end up flying under the radar and become a very valuable member of this team in 2011.
Last week I noticed something on the Blue Jays Facebook page that said according to Bloomberg Sports, Juan Rivera was the best sleeper pick on the Blue Jays roster.
Bloomberg projects Rivera to hit 18 home runs and score 54 runs this year. Just to compare, I decided to take a look at how others like Marcel, Bill James and Rotochamp are projecting Juan Rivera for this season:
These numbers aren’t too bad for somebody the Blue Jays didn’t anticipate having on the roster prior to the Vernon Wells trade. And by all accounts, Juan Rivera has a great outfield arm as well and can still contribute defensively.
If these projections are on par, a .310 on base percentage is actually pretty decent for your number eight hitter. Save for maybe Brett Gardner, I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a better bottom of the lineup hitter in the AL East than Juan Rivera.
A solid first half could make Juan Rivera a very attractive commodity at the trade deadline. Or if he plays out the year with the Blue Jays, then I’m sure Alex Anthopoulos would be very pleased to net a draft pick if Rivera can attain Type B status.
There’s no question that Rivera is only here for the short term, but the ripple effects of his play could be felt long term if the Blue Jays can pull off another Yunel Escobar-esque trade with the right team at the trade deadline.
Prior to Spring Training, it felt as though Juan Rivera was like the old dog people were weary of taking home. Well, this old dog may still have some tricks left in him yet.