Although Gregor Chisholm’s article about Jose Bautista heading back to RF and Edwin Encarnacion getting another shot at 3B doesn’t say so, this move has to be made in preparation for Brett Lawrie‘s arrival at 3B in May or June, doesn’t it? Bautista had said many times before spring training started that he wanted to spend the entire season at one position if possible. So, when Brett Lawrie came into camp and proved he could so easily adjust to playing 3B, the Jays suddenly had options. If they “suffer” through a few months of E5 at 3B, albeit he is now thinner and apparently more adept defensively as a result, they can rest assured that help is on the way if he struggles at the position in the form of Lawrie.
Moving Encarnacion back to a primary DH and backup 1B/3B role once Lawrie is up with the club must be in the cards and it’ll be interesting to see what the Jays do with Juan Rivera and Scott Podsednik at that point. Both will become trade chips that could be sought after by clubs in need.
In all honesty, I actually believe this is the best option for the Jays at this point. Juan Rivera can spell both Travis Snider and Jose Bautista once a week or so to help keep them fresh through the long season, and the guy he replaces can simply DH so the Jays don’t lose the bat in the lineup. Getting Bautista’s gun back into RF makes the Jays better than they would be with Travis Snider there, and Snider in LF instead of Rivera is also an upgrade. So despite the defensive woes the Jays may face with Encarnacion at 3B, the Jays will know that it shouldn’t be for long and that he could prove to be a very useful option as a 1B/3B capable infielder if he proves that he can actually play 3B at a decent level in 2011.
The Jays will have some interesting trade chips on their hands come June. If any of those chips can be spicy hot, expect Alex Anthopoulos to turn them into golden nuggets!