Posted on January 29, 2019, by Bryan Zarpentine
While they wait for the arrival of some of their top prospects, the Toronto Blue Jays have added a player who may be able to help them in 2019. On Tuesday, the Blue Jays signed infielder Freddy Galvis. The deal is for one year and $4 million, plus either a $5.5 million club option of $1 million buyout for the 2020 season.
The 29-year old Galvis spent the first six seasons of his big league career with the Phillies before being traded to the Padres last winter. He’s not exactly an impact player offensively, never posting an OPS over .690. However, Galvis has shown a surprising amount of power for a somewhat undersized middle infielder. He hit 13 home runs for San Diego last season after hitting 20 and 12 for the Phillies in 2016 and 2017, respectively. Galvis also has at least 61 RBIs in each of the last three seasons despite hitting in the bottom half of the lineup.
While Galvis doesn’t bring a lot to the table offensively, he’s a rather slick fielder, playing primarily at shortstop. Over the last three seasons, Galvis has a total of just 24 errors. He’s also proven to be quite durable, playing in 162 games in each of the past two seasons and playing at least 151 games in four straight seasons. If nothing else, Galvis can be counted on to be in the lineup every day and give a steady performance defensively, even if any offense he provides is a bonus.
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On the surface, it appears that Galvis will compete with Lourdes Gurriel Jr. to be Toronto’s primary shortstop. Gurriel started to breakout offensively during the second half of the 2018 season, ending the season with a .281 average and .755 OPS. However, the Blue Jays aren’t yet sold on his defensive work at shortstop. Galvis should provide some competition for Gurriel, so the young Cuban doesn’t win the shortstop job by default.
It’s also possible that the addition of Galvis could make it easier for the Blue Jays to move Gurriel to second base. Devon Travis has been Toronto’s primary second baseman the past few seasons, at least when he’s been healthy. Travis has been an injury waiting to happen since reaching the big leagues in 2015. He’s also coming off the worst offensive season of his career. Signing Galvis, who could also play second base if needed, helps protect the Blue Jays from another injury to Travis, further solidifying their middle infield.
Of course, the Blue Jays have several of the top infield prospects in baseball. Bo Bichette could take over at either shortstop or second base before the end of the 2019 season. Meanwhile, baseball’s top overall prospect, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., could supplant Brandon Drury at third base at some point this year and force Drury to move to second base. Richard Urena also gives Toronto another young option in their infield. However, having Galvis will make it a little easier for the Blue Jays to avoid rushing their top prospects if they prefer to give them more seasoning.
Ultimately, the progress of Toronto’s young infielders, including Travis and Gurriel, will determine whether the Blue Jays bring back Galvis for 2020. In the meantime, there’s little doubt he’ll have an important role to play for them in 2019. He brings sound defense, a professional attitude, and a good role model for an otherwise young team. Galvis also figures to get plenty of playing time to help showcase himself for whenever the Blue Jays decide to move on to their younger generation.