Eric Thames had a solid 95-game debut with Toronto last season and then beat out Travis Snider for the starting left field job during spring training, but the Blue Jays have demoted the 25-year-old to Triple-A after he hit just .243 with three homers and a .652 OPS in 46 games.
That represents a 137-point drop in OPS compared to his rookie production and Thames’ on-base percentage was particularly awful at .288, due largely to a horrible 40/9 K/BB ratio.
Snider is currently on the Triple-A disabled list with a wrist injury, which keeps him from getting the nod to replace Thames despite hitting .333 with a 1.015 OPS in 26 games for Las Vegas.
Instead the Blue Jays seem likely to turn to Rajai Davis as the primary left fielder even though he’s hitting just .220 with a .705 OPS in a part-time role and lost a starting job last season by failing to produce at the plate. Once healthy presumably Snider will get a chance, but the timing of the Thames demotion combined with his injury is interesting.
Vladimir Guerrero continues to work out at the Blue Jays’ spring training complex, but he’s not really an option to play the field regularly at age 37 and likely remains several weeks from potentially joining the team anyway.
The White Sox have reportedly picked up first baseman Yonder Alonso from the Indians, according to Stadium. The return for Alonso is expected to be nothing more flashy than a “fringe prospect,” though the minutiae of the deal is still pending a formal announcement from both teams.
Alonso, 31, inked a two-year deal with the Indians during the 2017 offseason. His first campaign with the club yielded a modest .250/.317/.421 batting line, 23 home runs, .738 OPS and 0.7 fWAR in 574 PA. The real boon for the White Sox may not be a passable veteran bat, however, but something more intangible — like Alonso’s clout with his brother-in-law and highly-coveted free agent slugger, Manny Machado.
While Alonso’s 2018 output represented a significant decline from the career-best numbers he posted in 2017, he’s still a solid contributor at the plate and, more importantly, slated to remain under team control for the next two years with just $8 million owed in 2019 and a $9 million option in 2020. As MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince notes, the $17 million the Indians just erased from their payroll should give them enough room to accommodate the contracts for right-handers Trevor Bauer and Corey Kluber — a bonus regardless of what they happen to get in the trade.