Fans of the Toronto Blue Jays were nonplussed when they learned the only player the team got in return for pitchers Aaron Sanchez and Joe Biagini was a soon-to-be 26-year-old outfielder that has spent most of his career in the minors.
However, if Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins is to be believed, Derek Fisher could be a key member of the rebuilding franchise for years to come.
“It’s hard to find someone like Derek Fisher so we are elated to have added him,” Atkins told Scott MacArthur and Kevin Barker Tuesday during an appearance on Sportsnet 590’s Baseball Central. “You take a guy who has an above-average run tool, projects from our scouts and defensive metrics to be an average centre fielder, potentially plus on the corners, he’s going to be an effective baserunner because of the run tool, he has raw power, he has elite plate discipline.
“You piece all those things into one player, you don’t find that. That’s very difficult to find.”
Fisher has one hit in eight plate appearances in a Blue Jays uniform since the trade with the Houston Astros. He also has two errors and his most notable play with his new team thus far was when he muffed a pop-up against the Baltimore Orioles and the ball hit him in the face, resulting in a trip to the hospital and a CT scan.
Certainly not the best way to ingratiate yourself to a new fan base, yet Atkins is confident he and his staff did the proper research on the Lebanon, Penn., native.
“He hasn’t had the opportunities — he’s had small sample sizes in the major leagues — because they’ve (the Astros) had pieces in the major leagues that are performing, that have been reliable and consistent and that’s where they got to the point where they have depth and they were able to move it for pitching and we were very fortunate to add him,” Atkins explained. “There’s risk in every move but there’s tremendous upside in Derek Fisher because of all the reasons I previously mentioned.”
Fisher slashed .201/.282/.367 in 112 games over parts of three seasons with the Astros. In 60 games with Houston’s triple-A affiliate in 2019, Fisher slashed .286/.401/.522.
Also included in the deal to acquire Fisher was outfield prospect Cal Stevenson, although “probability and upside is higher with Derek Fisher” according to Atkins.
“Had we been able to acquire Derek Fisher for less, we certainly would rather, but it became clear to us that that was not going to happen,” Atkins added. “They weren’t going to do a deal for less. … It really comes down to us just valuing Derek Fisher. We are really, really excited about adding that level of talent.
“To us it’s not a complementary piece, it’s the potential of him being an everyday major-league player. The minor-league performance certainly suggests that it should be.”