Posted on April 29, 2018, by Bryan Zarpentine
Amidst a four-game losing skid, the Toronto Blue Jays have optioned opening day second baseman Devon Travis to triple-A. In a corresponding move, the Blue Jays have called up relief pitcher Carlos Ramirez. The moves were made in part to help a tired bullpen. However, the decision to demote Travis is a testament to how much he’s struggled during the first month of the season.
Travis has grown accustomed to battling injuries during his career. The 27-year old has been limited to 213 games combined over the last three seasons because of multiple injuries. However, when he’s been healthy, he’s generally been a productive player for the Blue Jays. But that has not been the case this season.
Through 18 games, Travis is hitting just .161 with an OPS of .458.Those numbers aren’t going to cut it on a team that started the season brightly but is now struggling to keep pace with the Red Sox and Yankees atop the AL East.
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“You don’t ever want to get off to a slow start, but it happens,” Travis said earlier this month. “All you can do is control what’s going forward and that’s my plan.”
In his defense, Travis has played sparingly at times this year. After missing the second half of last season with a bone bruise on his knee, he’s received plenty of rest. Travis has also dealt with a minor foot issue. But if his health were an issue, the Blue Jays would have put him on the DL, not demoted him to the minors.
“He’s a good hitter. We all know that,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said of Travis earlier this month. “With the schedule we got him on, it can be a little bit tough to string some things together because of the two-on and one-off.”
With Travis being sent down, Lourdes Gurriel Jr. will be the team’s primary second baseman. Gurriel is just 5 for 22 since getting called up on April 20. But the Blue Jays are high on the 24-year old, who hit his first career major league home run on Saturday night. Before his promotion, Gurriel was hitting .347 at double-A, so the Blue Jays are optimistic that with regular playing time, he can become a constituent contributor.
Of course, with Travis getting sent down, the Blue Jays are now lacking infield depth. Both Josh Donaldson and Troy Tulowitzki are currently on the DL. Therefore, outside of catcher Russell Martin, there is no obvious backup for Gurriel at second base, Aledmys Diaz at shortstop, or Yangervis Solarte at third base. Donaldson began a rehab assignment on Saturday, but he’s likely a few days from returning. In the meantime, the trio of Gurriel, Diaz, and Solarte has yet to make a significant impact offensively.
Ultimately, Travis is likely to return to the Blue Jays at some point this season. With Toronto’s other infielders struggling as well, it’s only a matter of time until he gets another shot. However, the fact that it was Travis and not Diaz or Gurriel to make way for an extra pitcher points to the Blue Jays losing faith in their opening-day second baseman.