It has been 10 years since Jay Payton broke into the majors on a permanent basis with the New York Mets and five seasons since he played his last game with a National League team. Further, it has been a full season since Payton last played with any Major League team in the regular season. Incredulously, not only is Payton likely on his way back into the show at some point this season, but he may have value heading into the trade deadline.
The 37-year-old has spent this season with the Colorado Springs Sky Sox along with other former major leaguers, like Brad Eldred, Nick Bierbrodt, Jimmy Gobble, and Damian Moss. Payton is actually second on the team in plate appearances, and is hitting .323/.371/.467 with three homers. He’s never been an overly impressive player, with his best season by WAR standards being a 3.7 win 2002, backed by stellar defense.
Nifty glovework is really the key for Payton- play defense at each of the outfield positions as well as hit lefties slightly above league average. He missed the 2009 season because of a shoulder injury sustained while lifting weights and signed a minor league deal this past off-season with the Rockies. He is cheap, and, when combined with the aforementioned attributes, makes for a decent if unspectacular bench option for a team heading toward the playoffs.
The Rockies themselves don’t really need him, which just intensifies the likelihood of a trade. The return on Payton isn’t going to necessitate a top prospect. Probably a player to be named later that ends up being a live arm in A-ball or cash considerations; whatever deal Payton is moved in won’t set the world ablaze, but don’t be surprised if it comes before the flurry of near-deadline moves because if Dexter Fowler isn’t cracking the Rockies’ depth chart at this point, then neither is Payton.
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