Sports Blue Jays need Tulowitzki, Travis to produce for a successful 2018

17:20  03 february  2018
17:20  03 february  2018 Source:   sportsnet.ca

Blue Jays must now shift focus to improving pitching

  Blue Jays must now shift focus to improving pitching Blue Jays must now shift focus to improving pitchingTORONTO – The 2018 Toronto Blue Jays are gradually becoming easier to envision.

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If the Toronto Blue Jays are to be successful in the 2018 season, they will need greater contributions from their middle infield of Devon Travis and Troy Tulowitzki.

Neither player has had a fully healthy and productive season over the past three years, with both missing the majority of last season. The two combined for 457 plate appearances in 2017, and both saw their production when they were present in the lineup take substantial declines. Tulowitzki posted an OPS+ of 77, while Travis mustered an 88.

Those were lousy marks, to be sure, but still vastly superior to the 57 and 68 posted by their replacements, Darwin Barney and Ryan Goins, respectively.

Blue Jays’ Devon Travis eager to prove he can stay healthy

  Blue Jays’ Devon Travis eager to prove he can stay healthy So, here we are again. Another spring training soon to begin, another 162-game grind on the horizon, another opportunity for Travis to prove he can finally play every day. Another chance to wrest his career back on track, and return to the big things rather than the little.“It’s been a long road,” he said. “I just want to be healthy. That’s it.”Here are the facts: Travis appeared in 50 games last season. The season before that, 101. And in 2015, only 62. That’s 213 games over three seasons or an average of 71 per year. Simply put: Since 2015, Travis has missed more games than he’s played.

The Blue Jays have obviously gone to some lengths to insure themselves against the possibility that either or both Tulowitzki and Travis are unable to stay on the field this season. In acquiring Aledmys Diaz from the Cardinals and Yangervis Solarte from the Padres, the Blue Jays have added not only depth, but everyday calibre players.

Subsequent to both acquisitions, Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins was explicitly forthright in his expectations for Tulowitzki and Travis for the coming season. He stated in several interviews that the Blue Jays aren’t relying on either player to give them a full season in 2018.

Still, in an ideal world, the Blue Jays would be well-served by getting even the 2015-16 versions of these players. In spite of nagging ailments, Travis put up an .811 OPS and 116 OPS+ over those two seasons, while Tulowitzki posted a .767 and 102 and provided steady and at times excellent defence.

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Given their recent history, and the seeming progression of injury issues with both, fans would likely be thrilled to get a full and prosperous season out of either of them. Having both stay in good health for more than 140 games would be probably more than most fans would dare to wish or wager.

The Steamer projections on Fangraphs have somewhat enthusiastic predictions for the coming year for both players, with Travis posting 1.6 WAR and Tulowitzki posting 1.9. But even those somewhat rosy projections still estimate that neither will play more than 100 games or make more than 420 plate appearances.

In a shambolic 2017 season that sailed off the rails from the season’s first week and never came particularly close to respectability, there were multiple injuries and poor performances throughout the roster that conspired to sink the Blue Jays. There were so many, in fact, that it may have obscured how profoundly hampered the team was by the injuries to their starting middle infielders.

Predicting the Blue Jays’ 2018 opening day batting order

  Predicting the Blue Jays’ 2018 opening day batting order It looks like the Toronto Blue Jays are done shopping for position players, which leads us to project their batting order for the 2018 season.Following the acquisitions of Aledmys Diaz, Yangervis Solarte, Curtis Granderson and Randal Grichuk, the Toronto Blue Jays appear to have finished the bulk of their position player shopping this off-season.

If either of them makes a return to form this season, it could go a long way towards pulling the Blue Jays out of the basement of the American League in terms of offensive production.

In terms of what it could mean for the team in the longer term, there are very different considerations for each player.

With Tulowitzki, the Blue Jays are looking at best to salvage some value from the remainder of his contract. With three seasons remaining on the deal, and a substantial $4 million buyout on an option year, the Jays are hoping that Tulowitzki’s age 33 to 35 seasons can muster something close to value for the $54 million in salary he’ll be paid for those three years. Anything above 5.0 WAR over those three seasons would probably be considered something of a blessing.

For Travis, the equation is quite different. While there is less to lose for the team, at least in terms of payroll capacity, there is more upside to be gained. The Blue Jays have three more years of control over Travis, with two arbitration years following this season. So, by the 2021 season, both he and Tulowitzki could be gone.

But Travis, who will turn 27 later this month, is entering what should be prime years in his career. A good season this year would provide some level of hope for the coming years, and one could imagine that if he can stay on the field, Travis could be a key cog in whatever level of success the Jays have going forward.

It takes no small degree of hope to foresee injury-free and successful seasons out of both players this year, not to mention the following two seasons after that. And with Bo Bichette and Logan Warmoth edging closer to the beginning of their major league careers, one would imagine that more of the hope capital is being invested in these future middle infielders.

But in the short term, the Blue Jays’ success depends substantially on the current middle infielders’ ability to stay in the lineup and stay hot.

Blue Jays sign pitcher Jaime Garcia to $8-million contract .
The Toronto Blue Jays have signed veteran pitcher Jaime Garcia to a one-year contract with a team option for 2019.The Toronto Blue Jays signed left-hander Jaime Garcia to a one-year, $8-million deal on Thursday.

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