The information we’re given is scant, the source is anonymous, and there are myriad possibilities for why what we’re being told may or may not make any sense. So…
It’s here!!!! Bullshit rumour season is here!!!!
And it’s actually a somewhat interesting little nugget, to boot. Something that could unlock a whole lot of the roster turnover that Alex Anthopoulos has suggested he is excited to create this winter. If… y’know… it’s not utterly meaningless.
The rumour comes from Bob Elliott in this morning’s Toronto Sun, as he checks in from the current centre of the baseball universe, Kansas City, to tell us that the Jays have been receiving multiple phone calls on Adam Lind — and not just from American League clubs. Or, to put the exact same information another way: “I hear the Blue Jays are getting a lot of interest on Lind and not just from American League teams. I’ve heard three or four clubs,” one executive said.
Already this month I’ve fawned over Lind and the spectacular bat he brings to this lineup when facing right-handed pitching. To reiterate:
In 2014, among left-handers with 250 plate appearances in the split, Lind was tied with Michael Brantley as the best in baseball against right-handed pitching, with a 164 wRC+. In 2013 he ranked tenth. Over the last two seasons combined the “as L vs. R” leaderboard goes: David Ortiz, Freddie Freeman, Adam Lind, Robinson Cano, Chris Davis, Joey Votto.
Add in right-handed hitters — i.e. among all batters against right-handed pitching — and Lind’s wRC+ is still sixth in baseball over the last two years, with only Mike Trout, Miguel Cabrera, and Andrew McCutchen leapfrogging him on the list. For 2014 on its own, only Trout and McCutchen were better. Only McCutchen got on base at a better clip against right-handers.
That’s a tonne of value, narrow as it may be, especially given his contract situation. The Jays will surely pick up his $7.5-million option for 2015, and the $8-million 2016 option for the best platoon DH in the game looks pretty good, as well. “Salivating to get rid of Adam Lind this off-season just for the sake of it? Because he seems replaceable? Because of what he can’t do?” I asked, somewhat incredulously. “I don’t get it. At all.”
I haven’t changed my tune since then, but it’s not untrue that all of what makes Lind an attractive piece for us will certainly make him attractive to others. With legitimate, middle-of-the-order bats seemingly becoming less and less easy to find, maybe there’s something to be done here. And maybe it could even be in the Jays’ interest.
The Jays currently employ an aging top of the lineup — especially if Melky Cabrera returns or is replaced by an older free agent acquisition — and have a stated intent to have Jose Reyes take some days at DH, along with Edwin Encarnacion spending a lot of 2014 games at DH out of necessity rather than choice, and Jose Bautista starting 24 games at either first base or DH. Those guys aren’t likely going anywhere, and perhaps that means flexibility is more important going forward than is locking in two roster spots — one for Lind, one for his lefty-mashing caddy — to the designated hitter position. Especially if Lind can bring back an everyday player either for the outfield or for second base.
Lind’s elite production against right-handed pitching won’t be easy to replace, so the rush to unload him is still confusing to me. But opening up an extra roster spot? Opening up the DH spot? Removing one of the club’s less athletic players from the basepaths? Using him to fill one of two major holes on the roster? To upgrade team defence by creating extra room for glove-first backups to fill in when your top players shift to DH?
It could work.
So… there’s that.