Blue Jays pick Eric Thames in left field, send down Travis Snider


Travis Snider performed well enough to win the Blue Jays’ starting job in left field this spring. Unfortunately for him, Eric Thames played well enough to hold on to it.

Snider was sent packing Sunday despite his four homers and 16 RBI in 17 games this spring. He was hitting .271/.340/.625, though he did strike out 17 times in 48 at-bats.

Thames, the favorite going in, wasn’t bad himself, hitting .333/.380/.511. He has just one homer, but he has doubled five times in 45 at-bats.

Since both Snider and Thames were left-handed hitters, there was only room for one of them on the squad. The Jays are set to carry right-handed hitters Ben Francisco and Rajai Davis as backup outfielders. Francisco likely will pick up a lot of starts in left field against southpaws.

Snider just turned 24 last month, which is easy to forget considering that he’s already spent parts of four seasons in the majors. His successful spring means the Jays probably won’t consider selling him off for a lesser prospect yet, but his next chance in Toronto will probably be his last. He’ll be out of options after this year, so there won’t be any more sending him back to the minors come 2013.

As for Thames, he was the safer choice of the two. The 25-year-old hit a respectable .262/.313/.456 with 12 homers in 362 at-bats last season. However, that did come with 88 strikeouts, a total that only seems modest when compared to Snider’s lofty strikeout numbers. He lacks Snider’s upside, but the Jays are going to hit him ninth most days and he’ll certainly be a much bigger threat in that spot than most teams can boast.

David Phelps to undergo Tommy John surgery

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Pitcher David Phelps has a torn UCL and will undergo Tommy John surgery, ending his 2018 season, the Mariners announced on Wednesday. Phelps was making brief one-inning stints in the Cactus League as he worked his way back from a procedure to remove a bone spur from his elbow last September. He said he felt the ligament tear on his final pitch against the Angels in his March 17 appearance.

Phelps, 31, was expected to set up for closer Edwin Diaz. The right-hander, between the Marlins and Mariners last season, posted a 3.40 ERA with a 62/26 K/BB ratio in 55 2/3 innings. He and the Mariners avoided arbitration in January, agreeing on a $5.55 million salary for the 2018 campaign. Phelps will become eligible to become a free agent at the end of the season.

As the Mariners noted in their statement, the expected recovery period for Tommy John surgery is 12-15 months, so this very likely cuts into Phelps’ 2019 season as well.