March 16, 2012; Dunedin, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays left fielder Travis Snider (45) against the Tampa Bay Rays during a spring training game at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE
Here's a career trajectory that I would argue is a tad unusual: Your career starts out of high school when you're drafted in the top half of the first round of the amateur draft. You proceed to crush minor league pitching for three years while scouts gush over your sweet lefty swing, ultimately making you one of the most hyped and well-regarded prospects in all of baseball.
You finally get called up, and you post roughly league-average hitter numbers, not too shabby for a 21-year-old. But over the next two years, you stumble in your chances at the big league level, the regime that drafted you is replaced and that delicious prospect glaze is long gone.
Now you're Travis Snider, former top prospect and current Las Vegas 51, crushing baseballs in a hitter-crazy environment that make it difficult to tell how good you might even be at this point. A guy drafted two years after you that's nearly two years older than you has taken your place, which probably seems odder to me than it really is.
But as excited as people are about Eric Thames, I got one question? Why was his rookie performance so much better than Snider's? In 2011, Thames' rookie year, he hit .262/.313/.456 over 362 PA's. Over a short trial in 2008 and his first half-season in 2009, Snider hit .255/.331/.430 over 356 PA's. Thames was 24. Snider was 21 by the end of the second season.
Listen, I get that Snider hasn't progressed since then like the scouts had all said he would, and he really did look positively awful in a Blue Jays uniform last season. But he's about to spend this entire season at the tender age of 24, a time when many top prospects are just getting their footing in the big leagues.
He's still extremely young, he's still putting up the numbers in the minors, and those two things alone make him way more interesting than a host of guys that are getting opportunities this season. Basically, the options are pretty simple: you either keep Snider, or you trade him. Let's lay those options down.
They could keep him and eventually give him a real shot in the majors, instead of yanking him around like a Wii remote. Frankly, Thames isn't exactly thriving and he's continued to have issues with left-handed pitchers like scouts projected, so it's not like he's staring down big bad Barry Bonds. Thames could be a pretty good platoon bat in an outfield corner, but if he keeps struggling and Snider keeps knocking on the door at Triple-A, ultimately Blue Jays management is probably going to make the change. If they're having reservations about Thames as the primary left fielder, and I wouldn't be entirely surprised if they were, keeping Snider becomes an far more reasonable proposition. Pulling the plug on Thames wouldn't likely happen for a few weeks, though, after committing to him in the spring.
His value isn't really going to go up that much further further given how numbers coming out of Las Vegas are looked at, so trading Snider in the next couple months has to be seriously considered. He's too damn intriguing to sit in Triple-A, not when someone like Josh Reddick is the primary No. 3 hitter on a MLB team.
Here, watch me list a bunch of teams where you probably have to think, "Yeah, they'd probably want Travis Snider," although obviously the reality is that Snider wouldn't exactly cost nothing, so you'd have to consider what these teams might be willing to give up.
Atlanta Braves: You keep hearing about the Braves wanting a "big bat" in the outfield, and then they go and get guys like Nate McLouth and Michael Bourn. Now, Jason Heyward basically is the player that Braves fans often complain that their team needs, but having Snider fill the other corner could potentially give Atlanta a potent pair of bats on the outfield corners. Given the dearth of bats coming through Atlanta's farm system, getting a guy like Snider for some minor league pitching might not be a bad proposition.
Chicago Cubs: Theo Epstein is likely familiar with Snider from his AL East days, and Snider gives the Cubs a high-upside talent acquisition in the same mold as the Ian Stewart trade. Getting young, high-upside players is going to be harder for Chicago under the new CBA, but Snider won't be a bank-breaking move at this point. There would be a significant opportunity given Chicago's two veteran corner outfielders, David DeJesus and Alfonso Soriano, bat right-handed.
Oakland Athletics: The A's love taking on young-ish hitters from other teams, basically so they can discard the player themselves down the road once they don't pan out. Seriously: Kila Ka'aihue, Conor Jackson, Brandon Allen, Andy LaRoche, Ryan Sweeney, Michael Taylor, Chris Carter, Jeremy Hermida, Jake Fox, Kevin Kouzmanoff. That's just in the last three years. Snider just seems right up their alley.
Philadelphia Phillies: The Blue Jays don't really seem to be all that into Snider. The Phillies don't really seem to be all that into Domonic Brown. That's pretty much all I got here, but you have to admit that this would be a pretty fun trade.
Cleveland Indians: Shelley Duncan can hold his own as a stop-gap, but that's precisely what he is and the Indians coule use another young bat to add to their impressive stable. They're building something good with Carlos Santana, Jason Kipnis, Lonnie Chisenhall, Asdrubal Cabrera and Shin-Soo Choo. Snider could just be another piece in that puzzle, and he presumably wouldn't feel too much pressure in Cleveland with the other young guys around.
So there, you got five teams before I got lazy and decided to stop listing teams. I could probably justify a few others, like the Seattle Mariners because Chose Figgins is their starting left fielder.
But the bigger point is that Snider is still a very interesting talent, and he's the kind of guy that you'd like to see getting a full shot in the majors for someone. If the Blue Jays are trying to contend and don't think Snider will help that cause, fine, but at this point it'd probably make more sense to swap him for pieces that can help now if they don't think he can do it in the next year or two.