Much has been written over the last few years about Vernon Wells' immovable contract, but besides that significant commitment to their center fielder, the Blue Jays have a very manageable payroll situation. The only other player on their roster who will earn more than $4.75MM this season is Lyle Overbay ($7MM).
Unlike Wells, who has rediscovered the power stroke that earned him that monster contract in the first place, Overbay is struggling. Hitless in his last 14 at-bats, the 33-year-old has seen his 2010 slash line slip to .200/.281/.337 and has been the target of Rogers Centre boo-birds for most of the season. Manager Cito Gaston finally dropped Overbay in the batting order tonight, slotting him seventh rather than his usual fifth.
Although it's still unclear whether Toronto will be a buyer or a seller this summer, parting ways with Overbay could benefit both the present and future of the club. Top prospect Brett Wallace is hitting .289/.346/.537 with 11 homers in Triple A Las Vegas and not only represents a significant piece of the team's rebuilding plan, but could provide an instant offensive upgrade over Overbay. The Jays are likely postponing a roster decision at least until they can be sure Wallace will avoid becoming a super two player, but that time is fast approaching.
The last time we looked at Overbay's future, we still thought he may have some trade value. Now it seems unlikely that the first baseman, who has approximately $4.9MM remaining on his contract, would attract any interest. Is it best for Toronto to emulate what the Rays did with Pat Burrell and just cut their losses, or can Overbay turn things around? Is the 23-year-old Wallace ready to be an everyday player for a team technically still in contention? How should the Jays handle this situation?