Blue Jays 2B Competition is “Wide Open”


When the 2014 season ended with no playoffs for the Toronto Blue Jays, one of the areas of need was at second base. Here we are just over 4 months later and we have no clearer answer as to how that need will be addressed. In fact, the answer is yet to be determined and is “wide open”. Blue Jays GM, Alex Anthopoulos joined TSN Radio’s Mike Richards on Thursday. Among the topics discussed was the competition that has begun for the job of starting second baseman for the 2015 season.

Anthopoulos did concede that they were unable to land an everyday caliber player to fill the hole in the infield and will now enter a spring long competition to determine the solution. While it would have excited fans for The Ninja GM to somehow bring in a Howie Kendrick or Chase Utley, instead we get to witness an all out battle by less sexy names. Yet, this battle could be much more entertaining. Healthy competition is good for a team. And, with this one, there really is no way to handicap it. 

Toronto Blue Jays
Toronto Blue Jays /

Toronto Blue Jays

Among the names AA mentions (in order) are Maicer Izturis, Devon Travis, Ramon Santiago and lastly Ryan Goins. All of these names present their own case. Does the club go with veteran presence? Does the club put defense first? Does the club believe enough in its prospect? Or, has the club any idea how this will play out?

Izturis is coming off missing practically all of the 2014 season thanks to some dugout steps. Anthopoulos is quick to point out that he looks good thus far in Spring Training, even ranging to his back hand and making a good play. He is a hitter who can contribute with the bat. He’s not going to be Robinson Cano, but for a tenth of the cost, he’ll give you some good at bats (from both sides of the plate), he won’t strike out too much (career 10.6%) and can get on base (career .331 OBP). His defense is good enough that the club will likely not lose sleep over him starting at 2B. Some may question this decision with a UZR/150 of -26.7 and -6 DRS in 2013 at 2B. But, those numbers are certainly well off his career values. As well, he has enough versatility to make him seem valuable to a team that wants its bench to be strong. If Izturis does not win the starting job at 2B, he can play third and short stop.

There are not many people who realistically expect Devon Travis to start the year at the big league level, let alone as the Opening Day starting second baseman. But, we shouldn’t be so quick to jump to that conclusion:

The former Tigers top prospect is now coming into Blue Jays camp with a positive attitude hoping to crack the roster. And, he just might. All he needs to do is put together a good spring and convince the club that he can handle the role. It might seem like Travis has the odds stacked against him, but an injury here, or a poor performance there and we could very well see him come north with the club.

He might need a little help from Ryan Goins. Now, Anthopoulos did say that Goins is making progress with his bat; that he is working hard to make changes. Obviously, there is no questioning his glove. In fact, AA went so far as to say he has Gold Glove caliber defensive skills. That may be, but his bat is going to have to improve dramatically over his 2014 .188 avg. What’s more, he walked just 2.6% of the time while striking out nearly 22%. He might be working hard, but he has to.

The other intriguing option at 2B is Santiago. Here’s a guy who put up a .343 OBP last season. As well, he was worth an impressive 8.3 UZR/150. It is difficult to envision him as a starter given that he’s only played 100+ games in a season twice: 112 in 2010 and 101 in 2011. But, like Izturis, he brings versatility to the team as he can play multiple infield positions.

None of these options is a glaring slam dunk. Each has its own potential reward and question marks. But, it would appear that each will get their time to show what they can do. They’ll be given the chance to fight for a job. And, in the very early goings of the spring, they’re being given relatively equal at bats and time. Obviously, time will tell how this will play out. But, for right now, we get to sit back and enjoy the competition.

Next: Pompey & Pillar Ready to Compete