Dayan Viciedo to join Blue Jays 1B/DH Race?
When Michael Saunders went down with his knee injury, many Blue Jays fans were panicking about the lack of depth in the outfield. When we heard that Saunders’ absence would be shorter than we feared, we were able to breathe a little easier. But, the scare may have been enough to spark some movement by GM, Alex Anthopoulos as he signed a depth piece yesterday in the form of Dayan Viciedo.
Initially, this looked like a minor league addition that could potentially have an impact on the big league outfield. But, there may be other plans in the works:
This is an interesting idea. Currently, the Blue Jays have several options for the 1B/DH role. Of note (in varying likelihoods) are Edwin Encarnacion, Justin Smoak, Danny Valencia, Daric Barton and even Chris Colabello.
Obviously, the club’s preference is to have Encarnacion taking most of the reps at DH. Depending on what happens with Dioner Navarro, though, he could see time at 1B. If Navarro stays, Edwin would likely play first base. That would leave several of the above names without a spot on the big league club. Given Valencia’s ability to provide time at 3B too, he’s safe. He’s not on the bottom of that list.
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Realistically, it comes down to Smoak, Barton and Viciedo. However, this is a contest that may be too close to call. As noted by Kyle Franzoni already, the Blue Jays may be better off ‘strapping a glove on a turtle’ than putting Viciedo in the field. And, he’s played a whopping 15 games at 1B, which makes this idea even more dubious. If the Blue Jays are going to put a premium on defense as we’ve heard, they may lean toward Barton. He leads this list of maybes defensively.
But, if the club is willing to sacrifice a bit of defense to get offensive contributions, this race is a bit more wide open. Viciedo is a right handed bat that could provide 20+ HR, but will strike out A LOT and will walk with the opposite frequency. Barton is a left handed bat that will provide 10HR (if we’re lucky) with a lower OBP. Smoak is a switch hitter who has 20HR potential and gets on base better than the others (although not much). Depending on which one of these players gets the nod, we could be seeing the direction the team wishes to take.
Viciedo offers the ability (albeit questionable) to play several positions. But, he’s another right handed bat in a very one sided lineup. Barton offers the better defense at 1B. He’s also a much needed left handed bat. Smoak offers the ability to switch hit (although fairly poorly from both sides). He can provide power and some ability to get on base.
Perhaps none of these options are incredibly appealing. Perhaps that is the point. Perhaps the club is not satisfied with the options they have and continue to add to the mix hoping that one of them sticks. Each option is slightly different than the other, while none of them offer a slam dunk case. But, heading into the season options are good.