Like an all night Texas Hold’em heads-up battle, Spring Training is a flat out grind. A perk of the marathon process is witnessing those fighting to earn a major league salary duke it out for the opportunity. The chip and a chair mentality at the poker table is prevalent across all Grapefruit and Cactus League fields. In this scenario, Moises Sierra is playing the part of Mike McDermott, and the Toronto Blue Jays, none other than Teddy KGB.
At Florida Auto Exchange Stadium in Dunedin, home of the Blue Jays, a movement is brewing. Sierra is throwing his hat in the ring to solidify full-time employment in the big leagues and looking to stake his claim to the club’s fourth outfielder spot.
Sierra has paid some rather impressive dues during his eight years in the minors, flying under the radar since day one. 2012 was the year a definitive statement was made. In just 422 trips to the plate, the now 25 year-old Dominican blasted 17 home runs, cashing in 63 RBIs to go along with a nifty four-star slash line of a.289 BA /.360 OBP /.472 Slug% and a .832 OPS. Capable on the base paths to boot with double digit steals in five of those eight seasons, Sierra has still never received a true shot to prove his mettle in the show.
Fast forward to the 2013 Dominican Republic Winter League, otherwise known as Liga de Beisbol Dominicano, a place and stage that saw Sierra shine bright. In 42 games, the right fielder by trade raked his way to a .322 BA and a superb .405 OBP, turning heads and forcing his way onto the Blue Jays’ radar entering 2014.
Although diminishing with every warm and sunny Florida afternoon that goes by (or bone-chilling Toronto night), the prospects of a deal going down with one of the Blue Jays’ outfield pieces involved still looms. Trading from strength to address a weakness (starting rotation and second base) would be an astute maneuver, much more than revisiting the possible Adam Lind-Sierra platoon at first base.
It’s plausible Sierra will be wearing different colors come opening day, but that would be a mistake — a case of the right idea but wrong player. This is not Travis Snider or Eric Thames; this is a bat ready to contribute off the bench whenever the call comes. Not to mention the bat speed and rifle from right field he is currently showing off in Dunedin to bring back Mark Whiten memories to all the old schoolers out there.
Sierra should be allowed to evolve into an eventual core piece. The Jays would regret not giving him his chip stack to play with; this kid is not bluffing.