So long, one third of Roy Halladay, we hardly knew ye.
The Jays, of course, traded their homegrown member of the Cybernetic Operational Optimized Knights of Science back in December of 2009 for Kyle Drabek, Travis d’Arnaud, and Michael Taylor. Taylor was immediately flipped to the Oakland A’s for Brett Wallace. A little over half a season later Wallace begat Anthony Gose from Houston (by way of Philadelphia). And now, as we learned last night, Gose has been dealt to the Detroit Tigers for second base prospect Devon Travis.
Not exactly the kind of diminishing returns you’d like to see from a trade of a Hall Of Fame pitcher in the prime of his career at the time. But it’s actually a nifty trick that Alex Anthopoulos has turned, now for the second time — first by moving Wallace — having backed away from a player whose value seems likely to have already peaked.
That’s not exactly a fair assessment of Gose — he’s still young, toolsy, and as GROF tweeted last night, “As much as I rag on Gose, if Billy Hamilton can play everyday, a centerfield that good — in a ballpark that needs one — probably can too” — but his value to the Jays was certainly diminished by the emergence of Dalton Pompey (and, to a lesser extent, Kevin Pillar). More crucially his value in the overall would, in all likelihood, have taken a massive hit at some point in 2015, as he is currently one demotion away from being out of options.
At that point the Jays almost certainly wouldn’t have been able to get someone that some are calling a potential future everyday player at second base — or any other position, frankly — in return for him.
Of course, not everybody is that high on Devon Travis — Keith Law tweeted last night, tongue firmly in cheek, “Failed prospect traded for non-prospect. GM Meetings Fever – catch it!” Fortunately, most opinions on Travis seem to diverge from that.
So who is Devon Travis, anyway?
We’ll start with the basics: He’s a second baseman heading into his age-24 season who spent the entirety of 2014 in Double-A after tearing up the Midwest League and the Florida State League the year prior (though it should be noted that he was old at the time for the first, and not terrible young for the second). Baseball America just yesterday damned him with faint praise, naming him the top prospect in the Tigers system, though they did rank him the 84th best prospect in baseball back in February. MLB.com, on the other hand, has updated their top Jays prospect list since the deal, ranking Travis ninth. He was a 12th round pick back in 2012 out of Florida State University, and apart from some struggles in last year’s Arizona Fall League, he’s hit everywhere that he’s played in his brief pro career.
A superstar-in-the-making he is not. But there’s definitely something there, too.