The Toronto Blue Jays are at a crossroads of sorts entering next season. The Jays fought all the way to the American League Championship where they lost to the Cleveland Indians. But here comes the issue they will face. It’s time to either pay up or watch as another team comes in and takes their productive players.
To win in this league you need production. It has to come from the mound and the plate. As it stands now, the Jays may need to worry about the plate with Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista possibly leaving. The team made a big move with the signing of DH Kendrys Morales. But, there is more needed.
Last season the Jays had a platoon at the leadoff spot with Kevin Pillar, Michael Saunders, EzequielCarrera, Devon Travis and Bautista taking their shots. The Jays still managed to score 759 runs, good for ninth in MLB. Their leadoff hitters weren’t the worse as Travis did a pretty decent job but Dexter Fowler will bring experience and a winning pedigree to a lineup in need of an extra push.[embedit snippet=”2″]
The Jays were a series away from the World Series and where their CFs and leadoff hitters vanished, Fowler stepped up big time for the World Series winning Chicago Cubs. Now, make no mistakes about it, Fowler will be in high demand but after tasting success last season, it’s hard to go back to struggling. If he were to leave the Cubs it will have to be for a team right on the cusp. This is perfect for the Jays.
A leadoff hitter has one job, to get on base, Fowler does just that and more. The National League is more of a small ball attack, while the American league tends to lean more on the power side of the fence. But, what Fowler will add to the Jays lineup is what I like to call a standing still moving target. His plate discipline is one of the best in the league as he forced 79 BB last season. What he will do to an opposing pitcher to lead the game off will benefit all that comes after him in the lineup. Fowler makes contact with 78% of the pitches he sees and gets close to 5 balls pitched his way per plate appearance. It may not seem like much but as the first batter a pitcher see’s, he’s looking for an easy out, not a struggle. And if he approaches the plate with runners on base, please note that he only hit into 3 double plays all year.
If the Jays are willing to spend, then signing Fowler is a must. His market value will place him in the $16M a year range and the Jays should offer him a 4-year deal. That’s not too high of an asking price for a player whose job has been to get on base and move runners along. He’s not much of a base stealing threat but he produces in other areas.
If the Jays can somehow manage to keep Encarnacion and hope that their pitchers can continue their growth then a rematch with the Indians will go much differently. This is the impact Fowler will bring to the Jays.