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April 28, 2011

Transaction Analysis Blog

Jays Option Snider

by R.J. Anderson

TORONTO BLUE JAYS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Toronto Blue Jays
Option OF Travis Snider to Triple-A Las Vegas. [4/28]
Outrighted INF Chris Woodward to Triple-A Las Vegas. [4/28]

Demoting Snider is a difficult decision to analyze because of the variables involved.

When the Jays pushed Snider into the major leagues at the age of 20, there were reasons to believe he could handle the advancement, like his cumulative .275/.358/.480 line between three classes of play leading up to his big league debut. Snider actually fared decently in 2008, hitting .301/.338/.466 in 80 plate appearances. Since then, Snider has hit .240/.310/.420 in nearly 700 plate appearances.

The upside of moving Snider to the minors is alleviating pressure. An aspect of Snider’s game that the Jays would know better than anyone on the outside is his confidence level. Snider has shown explicit signs of frustration during games—including snapping a bat over his knee—and perhaps the Jays feel a trip to Las Vegas—and more importantly, a few weeks of good performances—can put the troubled slugger back on his grind.

The Jays are running the risk of demoralizing Snider too. After all, this is a guy who has hit Triple-A pitching before to the tune of a .339/.420/.623 line in 274 plate appearances. Then again, it’s not like he can hit much worse than he already has (a 2011 OPS of 542). Alternatively, the demotion might be about fixing a mechanical flaw or correcting a bad habit.

An added benefit to Snider’s demotion is saving some time on his service clock. The Jays would prefer Snider to be in the majors considering, but it could prove to be a positive externality down the road. Conversely, if Snider’s assignment lasts beyond 20 days, then he will burn an option. This is the third season in that Snider has been demoted, but there is a chance his 2010 optioning lasted fewer than 20 days—thus avoiding a situation next season in which he is out of options and out of time as a 24-year-old.

Snider is still young enough to fulfill his enormous potential, but there are questions over whether he would be best served spending the entire season in the majors.  One aspect the Jays do not seem worried about is the status of the current big league team. Rajai Davis will fill one of the vacated 25-man roster slots tomorrow and David Cooper—another former first-round pick of the Jays—will fill the other.  Corey Patterson of all people could be the player benefitting the most from Snider’s demotion—yes, that Corey Patterson who also appeared rushed to the big leagues.

Whether the demotion is the right call or not is just a matter of choice for the time being, but the Jays have displayed enough prudency behind Alex Anthopoulos to deserve some benefit of the doubt.


R.J. Anderson is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see R.J.'s other articles. You can contact R.J. by clicking here

Related Content:  Travis Snider

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<< Previous Article
Ahead in the Count: Ex... (04/27)
<< Previous Column
Transaction Analysis B... (04/26)
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Transaction Analysis B... (04/28)
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