The Blue Jays announced today that they have recalled outfielder Anthony Alford. He was already on the 40-man roster, so no corresponding moves will be required.
It’s an oddly timed move on the surface, as Alford — who is by most accounts one of the organization’s top prospects — wrapped up his Triple-A season a couple of weeks back. He’s also the last 40-man player, aside from outfielder Dalton Pompey, to be activated.
As Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca explains, though, the timing makes more sense when you look more closely. Alford is being asked up as a way of rewarding him for his efforts this year, Davidi writes, the club is wary of allowing him to accrue enough service time that he may ultimately qualify as a Super Two.
To this point, despite very limited MLB action, Alford has accumulated 101 days of service. Had he spent all of September on the active roster and cracked the 2019 roster very early in the season, he might have been on track for an early arb trip.
As things have turned out, there’ll be no real consideration of Super Two status — at least, that is, at the beginning of the 2019 season. The longer Alford remains in Triple-A next year, in fact, the more important the number of service days becomes, because it’ll also be possible for the Jays to keep him short of a full season of MLB service.
Ultimately, this timing call is hardly a major strategic undertaking, since Alford still needs to show he’s deserving of a full look in the majors. Certainly, this situation doesn’t merit the kind of scrutiny that has attached to decisions not to promote some other, more hyped young players (including a certain teammate of Alford’s).
Alford, after all, managed only a .240/.312/.344 slash line in his 417 plate appearances at Triple-A. That’s not what was hoped for after a strong showing last year at Double-A and in the Mexican Pacific Winter League. After running a 45:35 K/BB ratio in 289 plate appearances at the penultimate level of the minors in 2017, Alford’s 112:30 mix this year is especially disappointing.