The Crowded Outfield

Image courtesy of Daylife via Reuters Pictures

“Outfielders here … get your outfielders here!” The Toronto Blue Jays don’t have and old-timey vendor hocking outfielders down on Bremner, but with the surplus of players who can patrol the outfield, they may as well have.

With yesterday’s puzzling acquisition of Ben Francisco, that now makes six outfielders on the Blue Jays roster: Colby Rasmus, Travis Snider, Eric Thames, Rajai Davis, Jose Bautista and Ben Francisco.

But if you add up all the guys with big league experience in the outfield, that list actually balloons to 12 players. Needless to say, the Blue Jays have a bevvy of bodies to cover only three positions in the outfield.


In his conference call with the media yesterday afternoon, Alex Anthopoulos reiterated his plan was to go with five outfielders for 2012. That might seem like overkill, but considering the injury woes Blue Jays outfielders have sustained these past few seasons, that might not be such a bad idea.

AA also said the trade for Ben Francisco won’t precipitate another move, which I find hard to believe. Francisco was a non-tender candidate by the Phillies, and why would you acquire a backup outfielder unless another one was on their way out the door?

All signs certainly seem to point to one of the Blue Jays outfielders being dealt, the burning question is which one? Bautista and Rasmus are immediately out of the question, which makes Travis Snider and Eric Thames the top two candidates.

After the news broke of the Francisco trade, some thought this all but signaled the beginning of the end for Travis Snider. There have been plenty of rumours this off-season about the Blue Jays possibly shopping Snider, and now those fires have been stoked once again.

Even though the writing may appear to be on the wall for Travis Snider, I actually think it’s Eric Thames that has a far better chance of being traded and could possibly fetch more in return on the chopping block.

We’ve endured the Travis Snider saga for the past four years, and nothing would set my soul ablaze with satisfaction that to see Snider do well. Of the two, Snider still has the higher ceiling … even after all the injuries and trips to the minors.

At this point though, the Blue Jays would be selling low on Travis Snider. His potential is limitless, but Eric Thames just barely nudges ahead of him on the depth chart. So it doesn’t make sense to trade away a player the Blue Jays have invested in since 2006.

Snider comes with more upside, but Thames just put in a decent rookie campaign during 95 games in the majors. So which of these two outfielders looks more attractive to potential trade partners?

As great as a season that Eric Thames had, if I’m a rival executive I’m gunning for Travis Snider. He’s the diamond in the rough with a ton of upside and lots of service time left in his career.


Ideally, I’d like to see the Blue Jays hang to Travis Snider and include Eric Thames in some sort of package deal. One could argue that we’ve seen the best that Thames has to offer, and while I don’t claim to be Miss Cleo, I can’t foresee Thames improving upon his rookie campaign.

There’s always the possibility trading Thames could come back to bite the Blue Jays, but that’s the cost of doing business. Pure and simple, you have to give up talent to get talent.

The Blue Jays have much more time and energy invested into Travis Snider than they do Eric Thames. While Thames’ journey to the majors seemingly came out of nowhere, Snider’s story has been under the microscope and heavily publicized since day one.

Maybe they would be more willing to part with a nice surprise like Eric Thames than a highly-touted prospect such as Travis Snider? Which means perhaps the time is now to cash in on Eric Thames while his value is at its highest, and to hang on to Travis Snider while his value is at its lowest.

As it stands, that outfield is only big enough for three full-time outfielders, and there’s six guys who could all take those spots. All I have to say … is may the best men win.

Ian Hunter

Ian has been writing about the Toronto Blue Jays since 2007. He enjoyed the tail-end of the Roy Halladay era and vividly remembers the Alex Rodriguez "mine" incident. He'll also retell the story of Game 5 of the 2015 ALDS to his kids for the next 20 years.

6 thoughts on “The Crowded Outfield

  • December 13, 2011 at 4:16 pm

    I disagree and like Thames more than Snider at this point. Yes Snider probably has the higher ceiling but I just don't see it coming to fruition with the Jays. I also see some of Thames doubles turning into home runs.

    Also, I think Anthopoulos' plan is to play 6 outfielders each game, why else would he have 6 outfielders and also want to convert Kelly Johnson and Edwin Encarnacion to outfielders at the same time?

  • December 13, 2011 at 8:35 pm

    Peter, I think the best way to put it is my heart says Snider but my head says Thames. Hopefully Thames is more attractive to potential suitors than Snider is, as Thames could probably garner a little more via trade.

  • December 13, 2011 at 8:36 pm

    If we dont get Yu, to add a true front of rotation starter as AA has stated he wants, i'd offer Thames, D'arnaud, Drabek and Mcguire for Felix. He's expensive but controllable for the next 4 years and I believe enough in JPA that i'm willing to sell high on D'arnaud.

    Felix, Romero, Morrow, Alvarez and McGowan looks like a Yankee beating rotation to me. I'd put Cecil in the bullpen to pitch the 8th. We'd still have Hutch, Syndergaard, Norris and Nicolino as top pitching prospects. Seattle sounds like they are in rebuilding mode so Felix is worth more to us. This package is better than the Halladay package so i think it, or a reasonable facsimile would do the trick.

  • December 14, 2011 at 3:34 pm

    Anon, if the Blue Jays could somehow pry Felix away from the Mariners, that looks like an appropriate package to get him. If the Mariners are smart, they should look to deal him at the trade deadline if they tank again this year.

    But if the Blue Jays win the bidding rights to Darvish, then the only thing they have to give up is cash. I like that plan much better than clearing the cupboard of the Blue Jays best prospects.

  • December 15, 2011 at 2:46 am

    I'd bundle Rasmus, Thames and another to Cincy for Joey Votto, sign Beltran, and hurry-up Gose as future CF. I'd keep Snider, if possible, due to oft-mentioned ceiling (likable lad, too). With platooning we'd have reasonable fielding and power in short term, with both EE and Lind additional possibles for outfield work. Cincy would know Rasmus value and his acquisition might have had Votto in sights from start.

  • December 15, 2011 at 3:41 pm

    Pingston, I don't know if I'd look at dealing Rasmus now – the Blue Jays would be selling low, and I don't think they'd be willing to do that considering the players they had to give up Rasmus to get him in the first place.

    Saying that though, the farm system is stacked with centre fielders, and they could very well ship Colby off in the next few seasons. They can rebuild his stock and then get a little more value.

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