PHOENIX – The Toronto Blue Jays moved to address their longstanding issues at second base by acquiring prospect Devon Travis from the Detroit Tigers for centre-fielder Anthony Gose on Wednesday night.
Travis, 23, was a 13th-round pick in 2012 and batted .298/.358/.460 with 10 homers and 52 RBI in 100 games at double-A Erie, and while he’s tentatively slated to open the season at triple-A Buffalo, there’s a chance he arrives at big-league camp with an opportunity to compete for the starting big-league job.
“Like I told him on the phone, I don’t know what’s going to happen these next few months in the off-season,” said GM Alex Anthopoulos. “One, we like him, he’s a baseball player, does a lot of things well, the guys who get excited about him think he can be a (Jose) Altuve type … because he’s shorter in size. He’s always hit and he’s someone that’s going to come into spring training and depending on what happens in the off-season, he may have a chance to win a job unless we go out and add someone else in trade or sign a free agent.”
The move gives the Blue Jays a potential long-term answer at a position that’s been unsettled since Aaron Hill was traded in 2011.
As things stand now, the in-house candidates for second base are Maicer Izturis, Ryan Goins and Steve Tolleson, but Anthopoulos is seeking to acquire either a second or third basemen with Brett Lawrie filling the other spot. Travis gives the Blue Jays the highly touted infield prospect they lacked.
“The likelihood is that he would be in triple-A next year but we think he can come quick,” said Anthopoulos. “It’s going to depend, honestly, on the bat. He does a lot of things that we like, he’ll put the bat on the ball, he has a pretty good approach at the plate, uses the whole field, he’s got surprising power for his size and he can steal a base. He’s got good tools but he’s more of a baseball player than anything else.”
Pro scout David May Jr., who covers the Tigers, “really pounded for this guy, he really believes in him. He got to see him a lot, and his comparison was, ‘An Altuve-type player that ultimately will be a two-hole hitter.’ We’ll see how he does.”
The price to acquire him was Gose, who showed flashes of his talent during stints in 2012, ’13 and ’14 but never managed to lock down the position consistently. Trading him is the latest signal that the Blue Jays see Dalton Pompey as their future in centre field.
The Canadian will compete with Kevin Pillar for the starting job next spring.
“It’s not that we were looking to trade Gose, Detroit, that was the guy they wanted,” said Anthopoulos. “This is a good baseball trade, they had a need in centre field to the point that Travis was being converted, we had a need at second base, even from a position-player prospect standpoint. It just made sense for both organizations.”
Gose fills a void for the Tigers created by the trade of Austin Jackson in the David Price deal this summer.
“Anthony is a true centre-fielder than can provide us with above average defence in centre field with a good arm,” Tigers general manager David Dombrowski said in a release. “He possesses above average speed and can steal bases at the major league level. He swings the bat from the left side and we feel that he will continue to improve his offensive game.”
The teams first discussed the deal a few weeks ago, revisited it again Tuesday at the GM meetings and then really locked in on it Wednesday afternoon and completed it in the evening.