After a night full of rumours, the Blue Jays have released Melvin Upton Jr.
— Mike Wilner (@Wilnerness590) April 2, 2017
Upton had a forgettable tenure with the Jays. Brought in as a potential replacement for Michael Saunders, Upton posted a line of .196/.261/.318 for a 52 wRC+ in 165 plate appearances. Thought of as a defensive upgrade, Upton had his fair share of mistakes in the outfield. Fortunately, he was able to add some speed on the base paths, as he stole seven bags.
This decision was influenced by a few factors. First and foremost, Upton struggled with the Jays. Meanwhile, the front office appears fond of Ezequiel Carrera. Throw in Steve Pearce‘s ability to play left field, and Upton was the odd man out.
The left field situation became more complicated yesterday, when the Jays signed Chris Coghlan to a minor league deal. If Coghlan regain his form from 2014-2015, then he will be the best left field option in the organization. Even if he doesn’t, he can still be the fourth outfielder, with Carrera/Pearce getting most of the reps.
Finally, the infield also had a role to play. Troy Tulowitzki and Devon Travis will always have injury concerns. Darwin Barney can only play in one spot on any given day. If both of the regulars are out with injury, then the Jays will need help. Ryan Goins has surprised many, by staying in the conversation throughout the spring. Goins is out of options, and it was expected that he would ultimately be waived. With Upton’s departure, and a lack of Major League return, Goins’ place on the roster is now safe. It took him until the 11th hour, but he now has some security.
With Upton out of the picture, the Jays will have to reassess how they manage Pearce in left field and at first base, and how quickly they plan to give Coghlan a try. With any luck, the team might be stronger today than it was yesterday.