It safe to say the Toronto Blue Jays’ offseason has been far from thrilling, and that trend continued on Tuesday as the team signed free agent shortstop Freddy Galvis. Galvis joins the club on a one-year deal worth $4 million with a 2020 option.
Last season Galvis was the Padres’ primary shortstop and hit .248/.299/.380 and managed 1.2 Wins Above Replacement. The 29-year-old also showed impressive durability playing 162 games for the second consecutive season. It was the fourth season in a row he’d managed at least 150.
There are a few things to like about Galvis, beyond his ironman tendencies. He’s a very reliable defensive shortstop, he has double-digit home run power, he’s a switch hitter, and he can play around the infield. As far as backup middle infielders go, you could do a lot worse. But as everyday shortstops go, you could do a lot better.
Galvis provides insurance for a few possibilities beyond a simple Lourdes Gurriel Jr. injury. If Gurriel proves incapable of handling short defensively on an everyday basis, Galvis can slide into his spot and allow the Cuban to move elsewhere. If Devon Travis has injury trouble – an unfortunately familiar scenario – once again he can play short while Gurriel heads to second. If Travis hits like he did in 2018, Galvis will be there. For $4 million, that’s quite a few bases to cover. Instead of a questionable Travis-Gurriel duo with Eric Sogard waiting in the wings, now the team has more of a trio – or at least a duo with a more dependable Plan B.
This deal follows the pattern of most of the Blue Jays’ offseason moves so far. It’s fine, there isn’t much downside, and you can envision a scenario where the player ends up playing a surprisingly large role in 2019.
That said, Galvis doesn’t make the Blue Jays better in a way that’s likely to affect their fate this season, he seems unlikely to be a significant trade chip down the line, and the fact he’s 29 and the vast majority of his value comes from his glove is somewhat concerning. Guys with career OBPs of .290 really need to bring it with the glove.
Galvis probably will and this deal probably won’t go down as a mistake. “Not a mistake” is about where the Blue Jays seem to be maxing out this offseason, though. With 2019 looking like a clear rebuilding year it’s hard to expect much more.
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