Recent reports indicate that the Blue Jays are discussing a trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks that would send Lyle Overbay to the desert is exchange for catcher Chris Snyder (Thanks to MLBTradeRumors.com and Jordan Bastian for that one). This is seen as a method of replacing Rod Barajas and Lyle overbay, both of whom Cito Gaston apparently feuded with throughout the season. Unfortunately for the Jays however, beyond resolving personality clashes this deal makes little to no sense.
Lyle Overbay has one year remaining on a 4 yr/$24M deal. He has been our first baseman since being acquired from Milwaukee before 2006. He is not your typical slugging first baseman, but he has shown to be a great fastball hitter (1.26 Runs Above Average/100 fastballs in 2009, 0.93 career). He hits plenty of doubles and reaches base well (albeit he was in the bottom third of starting first-baseman in 2009 according to wOBA).
His broken hand seemed to bother him for the latter portion of 2007, and 2008, but in the first half of 2009, he showed glimpses of his former self. He mashed for 162 game averages of 20 HR, 92 RBI and 40 doubles prior to the All-Star Break, despite a ridiculously low .250 BABIP. He definitely faded in the second half, but ended up with hitting of .292/.395/.509 against righties while struggling badly against lefties (.190/.256/.278), indicating that his role is clearly as a platoon player, although a very strong one on his good side.
Chris Snyder was one viewed as the D-Backs’ catcher of the future, but injury and simple deterioration have reduced him to a backup or marginal starter skill level at best. Wins Above Replacement does not factor in defense for catchers, but offensively he has been just awful. He has been worth approximately 6.7 wins in his career. Not that impressive for a career that has lasted six seasons and cost his team 24.8 runs (2.5 wins) in his career (with his bat) compared with an average catcher during that span.
Another issue is that the Jays have no one else available to move into a starting role at first base. Randy Ruiz is an idea, but his numbers were clearly inflated by the hitter friendly Pacific Coast League and the fact that he swings at 40% of pitches outside the strike zone in his major league career is a cause for concern in terms of strikeouts. This cause is legitimized by his career strikeout totals (28% of plate appearances in ML, 23% professional). Until Ruiz gains more plate disicipline he will constantly be hampered by his strikeouts which will limit his effectiveness as a hitter. He hit southpaws moderately well as a big-leaguer but anything in that department is an improvement over Overbay. Brian Dopirak is a top prospect and another idea for a righty side of a platoon, but a disappearance of power in AAA, along with a severe drop of wOBA in only a 52-game sample makes me think that Dopirak neess more time and should not be rushed onto the scene. It would be much more developmentally beneficial to allow Dopirak a full year in AAA to see if his power re-emerges nd if he can correct the strikeout issue as opposed to bringing him up and thrusting him into a situation where he is clarly not ready.
These situations are hard on teams. Do we keep the clubhouse happy? Do we do what is best for the team? How much of a factor is money? These are all questions that need to be considered. With all of this in mind, the best option seems to be to keep Lyle in town, let Ruiz take the righty side of a platoon, and move Overbay if all of a sudden he starts to hit very well and we find ourselves out of the race by a long shot.
UPDATE:SUNDAY, 17:25 ET: The Toronto Blue Jays called off the swap because of concerns about Snyder’s surgically repaired back, according to Nick Piecoro of The Arizona Republic.