Transaction Scripts: Blue Jays and Tigers Prospect Swap

In competitive fantasy leagues, deals that benefit both teams can be rare. Enter the Blue Jays and the Tigers. On Tuesday they agreed to a trade of prospects, with Tigers top ranked minor leaguer Devon Travis going to Toronto for Anthony Gose. On the surface, it doesn’t seem like a major trade and it may not turn out to be. Keith Law’s Twitter take on the trade was less than inspiring:

With apologies, this trade does have some impact, since the Blue Jays have been looking for a second baseman for about as long as the Tigers have been searching for a closer. This deal gives Devon Travis a chance to play in the Major Leagues. Staying in Detroit would have meant staying behind Ian Kinsler on the depth chart and Travis was taking reps in center field in order to get an opportunity to make the team. On the Detroit side of this, with the loss of Torii Hunter to free agency they had an opening in center field. With Rajai Davis not being capable, they needed a player to fill that void following the trade of Austin Jackson to Seattle. This is a team that is built to win now and needed a center fielder that is defensively ready. Lastly, this speeds up the timetable for Blue Jays prospect Dalton Pompey, who debuted for Toronto this year. In fairness to Anthony Gose and Devon Travis, it will be Pompey’s chance to play in Toronto that is the most enticing for fantasy owners in 2015 and beyond.

Here is a synopsis of each player affected by this trade and what it means for their fantasy value moving forward:

Anthony Gose moves to Motown:

Anthony Gose AAA 2014: 51 G, 29 R, 4 HR, 25 RBI, 21 SB .244/.305/.346
Anthony Gose Toronto 2014:
94 G, 31 R, 2 HR, 13 RBI, 15 SB .226/.311/.293

What we know about Anthony Gose is that he is fast. While a player cannot steal first base, if he can get there he has the ability to put himself into scoring position given that opportunity. Last year Gose was able to steal 36 bases combined between AAA and Toronto. What is disturbing though is his lack of ability to get on base. This is important for fantasy purposes, as Gose will probably project to bat 9th for the Tigers since his on base percentage in AAA was .305 and .311 in Toronto. Gose will be able to get teams cheap steals but his lack of power and invaluable spot in the lineup should inhibit his impact. His counting stats will likely stay low given the fact that he will see fewer reps. However, the Tigers acquired him to play defense. When he gets on base he will be asked to create runs. Because of this, Gose is only relevant to deep league and AL-only owners due to the limits on his upside. He’ll good for some discounted speed and that’s about where it ends.

Devon Travis and Dalton Pompey get new life up North:

Here is a list of the players who played 2B for Toronto in 2014: Jonathan Diaz, Chris Getz, Ryan Goins, Maicer Izturis, Munenori Kawasaki, Brett Lawrie and Steve Tolleson. In a word or two, not pretty. With the presence of Kevin Pillar and Dalton Pompey, the Blue Jays made this trade from a position of surplus. Anthony Gose was not someone the Blue Jays were high on and to say Devon Travis has a chance to be an upgrade at 2B for the Toronto organization is an understatement. Below is the aggregate statistics for the Blue Jay second baseman in 2014:

Blue Jay 2B 2014: 162 G, 52 R, 7 HR, 48 RBI, 4 SB .247/.295/.340

For comparison’s sake, here is Devon Travis’ season at AA for the Tigers:

Devon Travis AA 2014: 100 G, 68 R, 10 HR, 52 RBI, 16 SB .298/.358/.460

Even given the fact that Travis’ numbers in Toronto will suffer from growing pains, it gives the Blue Jays a chance for an upgrade at a minimal cost. Not only is Travis popular with his former managers, his teammates like him more. It is doubtful that Travis will be more than an AL-only 2B for 2015, but what many prospects need and never get is the chance. With the move to a better hitter’s environment and the opportunity to play in the Majors, Devon Travis could not ask for a better fit in this trade.

As you may have inferred from the introduction, what intrigues me the most is what happens in Toronto’s outfield. Right now, Colby Rasmus and Melky Cabrera are free agents. It will be interesting to see how the Blue Jays approach their off-season in regards to further acquisitions. Today, this opens an opportunity for Dalton Pompey to play himself onto the Major League roster with a strong spring showing. At the least, it should provide him with an opportunity to be a call-up following the Super 2 date next year. Unlike Anthony Gose though, Pompey has a better ability to get on base as can be seen with his slash lines from this year across three levels of the Minor Leagues:

Dalton Pompey Minors 2014: 113 G, 84 R, 9 HR, 51 RBI, 43 SB .317/.392/.469
Dalton Pompey Majors 2014:
17 G, 5 R, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 1 SB .231/.302/.436
Dalton Pompey AFL 2014:
19 G, 7 R, 0 HR, 2 RBI, 9 SB .257/.358/.371

While this is not a perfect resume, it bears noticing how much speed Pompey has and he will only turn 22 in December. Scouts have only given him an average rating for power and hitting but he has overachieved at each level. Some seasoning in AAA may make sense for him but he definitely has to be in the conversation to make the Blue Jays Opening Day roster. Players who can steal 40 or more bases automatically gain the attention of fantasy owners and due to his better on base and slugging percentages, I think he is more valuable to fantasy players than Gose. Pompey may not have mixed league interest early in the season but as it progresses he may be a hot pickup, especially upon his promotion if he does not debut again in Toronto until June or July.

Even though the trade was sort of dismissed, there are fantasy implications worth noting. Though most of the impact will be for fantasy players in deeper or AL-only leagues, knowledge of what each player can offer and their opportunity to play is a key. Anthony Gose will provide steals but not much else, Devon Travis could be a very nice cheap middle infield option in AL-only and Dalton Pompey could be mixed league relevant by July.

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Greg Jewett is The Sports Script’s senior fantasy baseball writer. Follow him on Twitter @gjewett9!

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