The Blue Jays just signed 29-year-old infielder Freddy Galvis to a one-year deal with a club option for 2020. The contract will pay Galvis $4 million this season, with a $1 million buyout option or a guaranteed salary of $5.5 million for 2020. The seven-year veteran played the first six years of his career with the Philadelphia Phillies, and all of last season with the San Diego Padres. Galvis is a durable shortstop who has played more than 150 games in each of the last four seasons, including all 162 games in 2017 and 2018. Galvis is an excellent defensive middle infielder with a remarkable track record for staying on the field, which is more than can be said for a lot of the middle infielders the Blue Jays have started over the last handful of seasons.
A lot has been said about Galvis’s excellent defensive capabilities. Primarily a shortstop, over 658 games played at the position, he’s logged a fielding percentage of .984. Galvis also played 94 and 27 games at second and third base respectively, putting together a .992 percentage at second, and a .982 percentage at third. He also has 24 games’ worth of experience in the outfield. Baseball Reference lists his career dWAR at 3.6, which includes last season’s career high of 1.6.
Galvis is an above average defensive infielder. So what of the bat? Not a whole lot, really. A lifetime .246/.290/.374 with an OPS of .664 and an OPS+ of 79 feels like the line for a shortstop of the 1980s. These numbers aren’t particularly inspiring, though he does sport a career oWAR of 5.5, including 1.8 and 1.7 marks over the previous two seasons. 2018 was a respectable offensive year for Galvis. He logged 656 plate appearances, knocked out 149 hits, including 31 doubles and 13 homeruns, and was able to accomplish this playing in some hitter-unfriendly parks in the National League West. One area of concern that jumps off the stat page is his K/BB ratio. Last season Galvis struck out 147 times and walked just 45 times. Over his career, he’s walked only 173 times while he’s been K’d 601 times.
Despite a weak offensive career to this point, Galvis is still an above average Major League ballplayer. This is mostly due to his excellent glove work at a demanding position, but the Blue Jays should be happy to have grabbed a career 5.4 WAR player. Where he fits into the Blue Jays’ plans this season will inevitably fluctuate through the year, as injuries and performance dictate who will get the majority of the time in the middle of Toronto’s infield. Interestingly, Danny Barnes was the player DFA’d to make room for Galvis on the 40-man roster. This means that the Blue Jays still have Brandon Drury, Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Devon Travis, and Richard Urena on the roster, all of whom will be competing with Galvis for two starting middle infield positions and one bench spot. Of course, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. will have to be added to the 40-man early in the season, and who knows how quickly Bo Bichette forces his way aboard. Shortsop and second base are getting crowded very quickly for the Blue Jays.
My guess is that Urena is the odd man out come Opening Day, relegating Travis to the bench. The Jays’ front office is high on Gurriel, who has tremendous offensive upside, and could make a nice double play combination with Galvis. This plan makes Drury the caretaker third baseman until Guerrero Jr. arrives. At that point I imagine Drury heads to the bench and Travis heads to Buffalo.
All of my prognostications are obviously dependent on injuries, performance in spring training, and possible future trades or pick-ups. Anything can happen come spring. I think that’s precisely why signing Freddy Galvis is a tremendous move for the Blue Jays. The Jays now have two major league middle infield veterans on the roster in Galvis and Brandon Drury to supplement a core of young players like Gurriel, Urena, Guerrero, and eventually Bichette. They also provide insurance for injury prone players like Devon Travis. Freddy Galvis has been a good and consistent starting shortstop for the last four seasons, and I believe the Blue Jays will benefit greatly from having him in the lineup and on the field with regularity this season.
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