The Blue Jays have signed Dominic Brown to a minor league contract with an invite to major league spring training. This ends years of the Blue Jay’s love affair with acquiring Brown, they finally have their man. Even with Alex Antholoulos gone, the team continued their never ending fixation on specific players. It’s as if the team sat down when AA took over and picked 10-15 players they loved and made every effort to land those players, many of which eventually were acquired well after their prospect or rookie shine was gone.
Going back to 2009, the Blue Jays seemingly wanted two key pieces in exchange for Roy Halladay – J.A. Happ and Dominic Brown. While neither would come to Toronto in the Halladay trade which officially was Kyle Drakek, Michael Taylor (swapped for Brett Wallace with the A’s) and Travis d’Arnaud (sent to the Mets in the R.A. Dickey deal). Toronto’s brass attempted to eventually get their guys. They have since acquired many of the rumoured names leading back to the Halladay sweepstakes including Anthony Gose (swapped for Devon Travis), J.A. Happ (acquired, traded & signed back as FA), Michael Saunders (nearly traded away for Jay Bruce) and Brown was the missing piece that got away.
Brown now 28 once was a blue chip prospect, earning the #4 overall ranking by Baseball America back in early 2011. Taylor by comparison was also almost as highly regarded, both were the type of legitimate pieces you would expect in return for a player like Halladay. Fast forward a few years and Brown has posted some mixed and overall unspectacular numbers with the Phillies spread over six partial seasons. In 493 games, Brown has posted a .246/.305/.405 line and a OPS+ of 94. 2013 was the one year he seemed to be stepping into his own as a true power hitting OF’r clubbing 27HR, 83 RBI, a much improved .272/.324/.494 line along with a more robust 124 OPS+.
In November of 2013 the world almost exploded when it was rumoured that the Blue Jays were discussing trading Jose Bautista for a package that centered around Dominic Brown plus. While almost no one close to the Blue Jays thought the rumour had merit, it was telling that the Blue Jays were again interested in Brown who had finally broken out. As we know that rubbish never came to past and Brown has since struggled to find any sense of his former All-Star self leading to his outright release in October and electing Free Agency.
Brown is exactly the type of depth move the Blue Jays should be interested in. They have a recent history of helping sluggers find their swagger and getting the most value out of them. He comes to the team at a time when two of their outfielders Jose Bautista and Michael Saunders are in their final years of control. He will join the Junior Lake, Dalton Pompey and Ezequiel Carrera as the depth/4th OF options for 2016.
The Blue Jays finally got their man, hopefully they can work some magic to help the former all-star find his way again. At the very least there never is a bad minor league signing, especially one that has some potential upside like Brown at only 28 years of age. While I won’t predict Brown as the heir to Bautista’s throne, he serves as a nice gamble for the Blue Jays.