(Photo Credit: REUTERS/RAYMOND CARLIN III)
The Toronto Blue Jays are sputtering, and they need a spark fast if they want to keep pace in the American League East. After a torrid 12-5 start to the season, the Blue Jays have dropped 11 of their last 18 contests, and with the Boston Red Sox holding the best record in baseball and the New York Yankees hot on their tail winning 15 of their last 16 games, Canada's team finds itself third in the division and struggling to keep pace in the Wild Card race. However, what sort of spark are the Blue Jays in need of? Well, perhaps we should explore the possibility of parting ways with switch-hitting slugger Kendrys Morales, and here's why.
Lack of versatility
Kendrys Morales is used primarily in the lineup as a designated hitter, but what else can he really do that adds value to the team? Sure, he can handle himself well enough at first base whenever starter Justin Smoak needs a night off, but that's it. He doesn't offer the same versatility that younger infielders Yangervis Solarte and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. offer, which can prove a liability.
A dismal bat
Well hey, the Blue Jays didn't bring in Kendrys Morales to play defense, right? They wanted his powerful bat, and he was a cheaper replacement for Edwin Encarnacion, so at least he's hitting the ball, right?
Wrong. So far this season, Morales is slashing a horrific .152/.236/.278, nowhere near his numbers from last season (.250/.308/.445), and that was even considered a disappointing season for a player of Morales' caliber. But Morales is a typical power hitter. He is never a lock for a strong batting average, but he can still knock the ball out of the park and drive in runs. Well, so far this season, Morales has only hit three home runs with 10 RBI in 24 games. That number can probably be ignored, as Morales spent some time on the disabled list this season, but when you consider the reasons the Blue Jays signed Morales, it's safe to say the results have been a disappointment.
So, what can the Blue Jays do with Morales? Well, designating him for assignment allows the Blue Jays to free up a roster spot while they decide whether to trade him or simply waive him, but freeing up a roster spot can allow a guy from the Blue Jays double-A affiliate New Hampshire Fisher Cats to join the big club. That's right, perhaps it's time, at last, to bring up the kid all Blue Jays fans have been excited for: Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
Sure, he's only 19 years old, but Guerrero continues to prove why he is ranked the third-best prospect in baseball. He's nearly hitting .400 in his first season at the double-A level, and he has incredible power. That said, if Toronto management were to promote him to the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons, just a short trip away from the Rogers Centre, and he succeeds there as well, perhaps Guerrero can be brought up to the main roster to man the DH spot and then third base if Josh Donaldson is dealt at the deadline.
It's a big risk with such a young prospect, but one that's just crazy enough to work.