Potential Off-Season Targets: Travis Snider

With the 2011 season over, the old saying, “There’s always next season,” instantly becomes all Mets fan’s credo. But before we can think about riding the 7-train out to Flushing again, there is a whole off-season to project and pontificate about. Considering the amount of holes the Mets will have, this coming off-season holds a lot of importance.

In this new on-going series, Rising Apple will analyze potential off-season targets for the New York Mets. Today’s target at-hand is outfielder Travis Snider.

Travis Snider has seemingly been around for ages. And in some ways, he really has. The Toronto Blue Jays drafted Snider with the 14th overall pick in the 2006 draft, and immediately made his debut in Rookie Ball after signing. The 18 year-old outfielder impressed, smacking a .325/.412/.567 line with 11 HR, 41 RBI, and 36 R in 226 PA’s–prompting Baseball America to tab Snider as the #53 prospect in baseball prior to the 2007 season. The honor was validated by his tremendous .313/.377/.525 line with 16 HR, 93 RBI, and 72 R in 517 PA’s at Single-A the following year.

The spotlight only grew larger for Snider, as BA ranked him the #11 prospect pre-2008, and then #6 in their pre-2009 list. The outfielder also got his first taste of the show in 2008, posting an enticing .301/.338/.466 line in 80 PA’s. Yet, despite his Minor League accolades, and brief cup of coffee in the bigs, the Washington State-native’s success in the Majors ended there. Making the roster out of Spring Training in 2009, the 21 year-old swatted a disappointing .241/.328/.419 line with 9 HR, 29 RBI, and 34 R in 276 PA’s. Snider was sent down to Triple-A in May, where he lit-up pitchers to the tune of a .337/.431/.663 line with 14 HR, 40 RBI, and 32 R in 204 PA’s.

Hoping his explosive tenure in Triple-A would do him well, Toronto again placed the former “top prospect” on the 25-man roster to start the 2010 season. But, similar to 2008, Snider found himself in the Minors once Summer struck. Despite hitting 14 HR and slugging .463 in 276 PA’s for the Blue Jays, Snider didn’t display much else–hitting just .255 and taking a walk at an unconscionable .304 clip. However, unlike his 2009 Minor League stint, Snider struggled against inferior pitching–posting a combined .283/.288/.485 line with 5 HR, 18 RBI, and 16 R in 104 PA’s (mostly at Double-A). Even when the outfield returned to the Blue Jays (starting in late-July), he still looked lost at the plate (.264/.291/.451 line in 189 PA’s).

Like clockwork, in 2011, Snider yet again made the roster but failed to stick. After swinging a horrendous .184/.276/.264 line in the month of April (99 PA’s), the 23 year-old didn’t see the light of day until July. Granted, Snider did own a .327/.394/.480 line in 277 PA’s for Triple-A–remarkably better than his depressing Minor League stint the season before–but his oft-dinger-power was gone (just 4 HR in 277 PA’s). The outfielder didn’t do much when the Blue Jays recalled him in early-July, posting just a .260/.262/.420 line in 103 forgettable PA’s.

Looking ahead to 2012, Travis Snider is no longer a top prospect–or arguably in Toronto’s future plans. The left-handed hitter has been given three ample looks in the Major Leagues (in 2009, 2010, and 2011)–all without much success. With the Blue Jays recent acquisition of Ben Francisco from the Phillies, it adds a third layer of left-field competition going into Spring Training (along with Rajai Davis and Eric Thames). Even though Snider can continue to sit in Triple-A, there’s a good chance the Blue Jays will instead opt to trade him. Enter the New York Mets.

The Mets are seemingly set in right-field (Lucas Duda) and center-field (Andres Torres), but Jason Bay has been a universal and expensive dud in left-field. While Snider hasn’t done much with his stick in the Major Leagues, he has, at least, shown a capable glove. In 1335 career innings in left-field, Snider has posted a combined 6.8 UZR/150–with his best showing being a 21.1 UZR/150 in 433.6 innings during the 2010 season.

In regards to Snider’s defense, Toronto Blue Jays blogger Jared Macdonald (of Jays Journal) said:

“[Snider is a] better [defender] than most people think. [He] still needs to work on his routes but his arm is underrated. No bounce to second base from [an] outfield corner.

With just a .248/.307/.423 career line to his name, the “bounty” for acquiring Travis Snider should hardly quake the ground. Yet, given his still relative young age (will turn 24 in February), flashes of Minor League brilliance, and very respectable glove, it’s possible that with a little change of scenery, the Mets could be in-line for quite a steal if they acquired Snider.

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  • BklynBoy

    Travis Snider doesn’t seem to be a good target to me. He has had 3 significant opportunities in the Majors and performed badly. His 2 stints at AAA, mentioned in the article, were both at Las Vegas, a high altitude, hitters ball park, where everyone with a little bit of ability positively rakes. If the Mets want to toss away some minor prospects to acquire him, I wouldn’t object. He’s worth that kind of risk. But not anything more significant.

  • BklynBoy

    Travis Snider doesn’t seem to be a good target to me. He has had 3 chances to make it at the major league level, and has struck out. The two AAA stints mentioned in the article were at AAA Las Vegas, a high altitude hitters park, where almost anyone who can swing a bat absolutely rakes. Of the Mets wanted to toss away a couple of minor prospects to acquire him, I wouldn’t object. He’s worth that kind of a chance. But I wouldn’t give up any more.

  • risingapple

    I don’t think it would take much to yank him away from the Blue Jays. For the reasons you mentioned above, it’s pretty obvious the Blue Jays have slapped the “lost cause” label on him. But maybe he just needs a little change of scenery. The good news is that he’s still young and he’s a pretty solid glove.

    It wouldn’t be a hugely exciting transaction, but I think it would be a low-risk move with a ton of upside.


  • tamor

    Snider is still highly esteemed in the Blue Jays organization. They’re not looking to give away a former first round pick who oozes potential while being under 25. For the same reasons that he’s an attractive commodity to other teams, he still fits with the Jays.

    Worst case scenario for the Jays is they hold on to him and he has another decent AAA year in the hitting friendly league. It’s not like his trade value is going to drop much lower than it is now.

  • BklynBoy

    @risingapple If you call a .948 fpct in RF and .937 in LF with a range factor of 1.64 and more outfield errors than assists a “pretty solid glove” than I guess you’re right. I think the quote of MacDonald’s “[Snider is a] better [defender] than most people think. . . . his arm is underrated.” tells it all. Most people think he is a mediocre defender, at best, with a so-so arm. As I said before, I’d trade for him if I didn’t have to give up much. Otherwise, let the Jays hold on and hope.

  • BklynBoy

    @tamor The bloom is off the rose with Travis. GMs will discount his AAA performance in the PCL. Look at what the Mets Rule 5 castoff, Brad Emaus, did at Colorado Springs last year after the Mets let him go. No one will break down the doors for him either. I think Snider’s trade value will drop with each passing season, so the Jays should move him if they can stll get some value for him.

  • risingapple

    His UZR/150 was very respectable and he has a good arm. No one is making him out to be Endy Chavez, but he’s a better defender than Bay or Duda. @BklynBoy

  • risingapple

    I disagree. The Blue Jays have gone from handing Snider a starting gig to finding as many people to compete with him as humanly possible.

    Also, sticking Snider in Triple-A for the year would hurt his value. He proved he can hit in the Minors, it’s the Majors he’s had trouble with.@tamor

  • tamor

    @risingapple@tamor He hasn’t proved that he can’t hit in the majors… he’s just shown that he’s been slow to adapt to breaking pitches. He still kills fastballs. If he were in the NL or at east out of the AL East, he would be destroying the ball. He’s also only 23 years old.

    All I’m saying is that there’s no reason for the Jays to trade him. It’s a pipe dream of fans from other teams to think that their GM is going to be able to swoop in and steal him for a song. There’s greater value for the Jays to hold on to him and hope he puts everything together. Or, to trade him to a GM who will give fair value.

    He will not be traded for crappy, second-string prospects. This isn’t a video game and you don’t get to just trade for whoever you’d like. GMs get fired for trading guys like Snider for nothing.

  • risingapple

    Snider’s -6.6 RAA against fastballs in 2011 doesn’t quite support that thought, although he did hit fastballs more effectively in 2010 (-0.4 RAA), 2009 (3.7 RAA), and 2008 (4.1 RAA). And yes, the Blue Jays can keep him in Triple-A instead of trading him for “crappy, second-string prospects,” but him mashing in Triple-A, again, won’t convince GMs that he’s worth a king’s ransom–or even a prince’s ransom. If the Blue Jays were so high on him, they wouldn’t let Rajai Davis, Eric Thames, and now Ben Francisco steal PA’s away from him. If he continues to flounder under the Blue Jays watch, his future value will be even less than his current value. @tamor

  • BklynBoy

    @risingapple It doesn’t take much to be a better defender than Bay or Duda, although Bay has shown a much better glove than I had expected from him. That said, Snider would replace neither of them in the Mets outfield in the foreseeable future. If the Jays would part with him for, say, Estarlin Morel and Juan Carlos Gamboa, I would take him on as a project.