Snider activated, optioned to Double-A

The Blue Jays have activated outfielder Travis Snider from the 15-day disabled list and optioned him to Double-A New Hampshire. It was a surprising move, considering manager Cito Gaston’s comments on Friday made it sound like Snider was set to rejoin the Jays in the next few days.

At first glance, the move does not seem to make much sense. Snider is part of the future, so he should be playing every day in the big leagues. He has nothing left to prove in the Minors. That said, GM Alex Anthopoulos would not make this decision without proper reasoning behind it.

Either the Blue Jays don’t feel Snider’s swing is ready — he’s coming back form a right wrist injury — or Anthopoulos needs to buy some time to figure out how to clear a roster spot for the young outfielder’s return. Or, it could be a combination of the two. The July 31 Trade Deadline is coming up after all.

Snider is only required to remain in the Minors for the next 10 days, so this could be a short stint before coming back. And the fact that he was optioned to Double-A and not Triple-A Las Vegas does not matter much. Snider is seeing good pitching, he is closer to Toronto and offensive numbers tend to be misleading in the Pacific Coast League.

UPDATE — POSTGAME:

Well, so much for all the conspiracy theories…

After tonight’s 3-2 win for the Blue Jays, the team announced that it had designated infielder Nick Green for assignment to clear a spot for pitcher Shaun Marcum (due to be activated from the disabled list). What does this have to do with Snider? Let me explain.

Removing Green from the roster leaves the Jays with 12 position players and 13 pitchers (six starters and seven relievers). For the next 10 days or so — or the minimum amount of time Snider must remain in the Minors — Toronto will play short-handed on the bench. Why, you ask? To ease the workload for the starting pitchers.

Confused yet?

Brandon Morrow, who started on Saturday, is going to be skipped once in the rotation. It was assumed that either Jesse Litsch or Marc Rzepczynski would be sent down to clear room for Marcum’s return. What is going to happen instead is Litsch will start on Tuesday and Rzepczynski will start on Wednesday in Kansas City.

Morrow is currently at 107 innings after logging 124 2/3 innings last season. The Blue Jays want to avoid shutting him (or any other starter) down later in the season. So, by skipping a start, it helps manage his innings. Similarly, the Jays put Marcum on the 15-day DL with a minor elbow issue over the All-Star break and he only missed one start.

Morrow is scheduled to return to the rotation on July 26 in Toronto, giving him eight days of rest. So the rotation in K.C. will be Brett Cecil, followed by Litsch and Rzepczynski. In Detroit it will be Ricky Romero, followed by Marcum, Cecil and Litsch. When Morrow’s turn comes up again, the Jays may decide to go back to a 12-man staff.

Gaston noted that the Jays will likely do this with other starters leading up to September. In the final month, though, Toronto may go with a true six-man rotation to help limit the innings that the starters are piling up. Last year, Toronto was forced to shut Cecil and Rzepczynski down in September. The Jays hope not to do something like that this year.

So, given the rotation situation, Snider stays at Double-A for now. It also just so happens that the July 31 Trade Deadline is coming up. This move not only helps the starting staff, but it also gives Anthopoulos time to dip his toes in the trade waters to see if there are options out there to clear an easy path for Snider’s return before the end of the month.

OK, so I guess conspiracy theories can still exist…

–JB

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