Leftfield for the Toronto Blue Jays has been a revolving door for years. Names like Reed Johnson, Ben Francisco, Gabe Gross, and Shannon Stewart have occupied the position. This year, the big battle in camp was between Travis Snider and Eric Thames for the starting position. Thames initially won, but was sent down for poor performance, and was eventually traded to Seattle. Snider was called up with much fan fare but was eventually dealt to Pittsburgh. Rajai Davis is now the starter, even though General Manager Alex Anthopolous has said he envisions Davis as a “fourth outfielder.”
What direction will the Jays take next year? With presumably Colby Rasmus staying in center and Jose Bautista manning right field, will they try Moises Sierra or Anthony Gose in left? Sierra has had trouble in right defensively while Gose has struggles quite a bit with the bat. Will the Jays seek a trade, for say Cleveland’s Shin Soo-Choo, or will they look to free agency to fill the void in left? Below are a few of the guys who are unrestricted free agents after the season that could either play left or play in the outfield and force an outfield shift:
B.J. Upton (.246, 23 HR’S, 68 RBI’S, 30 SB’S)
Upton, 28, is a great fielder and a threat on the base paths. He would provide an immediate power upgrade over incumbent Rajai Davis and having spent his whole career with Tampa in the American League East he would be familiar with the division.
Shane Victorino (.255, 10, 55)
Victorino was mentioned earlier in the season when the Cole Hamels to Toronto rumours were taking place. Victorino, a two-time All-Star, brings loads of leadership and playoff experience to the Jays, which they lack. He would be a positive influence in the clubhouse.
Nick Swisher (.255, 20, 78)
Swisher can play all outfield positions and like Victorino, has championship pedigree as a member of the Yankees. He hits for power and is known as a guy who keeps things loose. He is reportedly seeking a Jayson Werth type-deal: 7 years, $126 million, which may be too rich for Rogers and the Jays.
Michael Bourn (.277, 9, 56, 39)
Bourn would be a perfect fit for the Jays. Only 30, he routinely leads the National League in steals every year, and will hit around 10 home runs and drive in 60. He is also capable of hitting for a decent average, something that Rajai Davis cannot seem to do.
Josh Hamilton (.287, 42, 123)
Hamilton is one of the rare five-tool players in baseball and will be the biggest fish in the pond when free agency hits. This is a pipe dream for Jay’s fans, to land a guy with so much talent but at a high cost. The only hindrance is he has bad knees and is injury prone, but that will not scare suitors, who see him as a high-risk, high-reward type of investment.
From a personal standpoint, I have always been an Upton fan, and would like to see him play with Rasmus and Bautista in the outfield. He brings speed, power, and defense to the table, and with a little more work, he can raise his average to above .270, he could be in the Jays outfield for many years to come.
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