Jimmy Paredes has made starts at third base and second base since being claimed off waivers
Jimmy Paredes is a man without a true home on the diamond. More accurately, he’s a man without a strong defensive fit.
Since being claimed off waivers from the Baltimore Orioles earlier in the week, the 27-year-old Dominican has started at third base and second base. While Paredes is by no means an incompetent defender, he’s already produced a handful of unnatural plays in the field.
Combining his major league and minor league numbers, second and third base are the positions where he holds the most experience by a significant amount. He’s logged over 1,600 innings at third and over 2,600 at second with some limited time in the corner outfields.
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Paredes was added to the roster over Andy Burns, the ultra-versatile minor leaguer with a lower offensive ceiling, but a stronger defensive value. Given the Blue Jays’ offensive struggles early in 2016, this could be a small sign of a shifting philosophy with their reserve players. If some of his value is considered to come as a reserve third baseman, he’s now rostered above Matt Dominguez who, despite scuffling at the dish in his brief MLB stint, is a top-level defender.
The return of Devon Travis will test this theory. With Ryan Goins coming up empty at the plate, the Blue Jays could make another bat-first decision by demoting Goins and keeping Paredes on as their top bench hitter. This is a move that Toronto could afford to make given the defensive strength of Darwin Barney in the middle infield.
Keeping the focus on second base, the Blue Jays would have the option of sprinkling in Paredes for the odd start with right-handed pitchers on the mound. Travis was stronger against left-handers in 2015, but should still earn the majority of starts upon his healthy return over Barney and Paredes.
Josh Donaldson‘s recent scheduled day of was said to be one of “three or four” that he’d have this season, so outside of injuries, there won’t be much opportunity for Paredes at the hot corner. Perhaps the Blue Jays really take their chances and spot start him in the corner outfield if needed, but with Ezequiel Carrera and several options at triple-A, that seems to be a long shot.
The Baltimore Orioles used him primarily as a designated hitter, which frankly, is his best defensive fit. Justin Smoak‘s excellent start to 2016 has entrenched him alongside Edwin Encarnacion in the 1B/DH duo for now, but as the bench’s only bat with real power potential, Paredes can be considered plan-B in this area.
Where does this leave Paredes, then? He appears to occupy varying degrees of “backup” on the diamond, but behind second and third base he could be in tandem with Darwin Barney depending on the philosophy of the day (bat-first or glove-first).
These things have a way of working themselves out, but despite his 3-for-9 start with one home run, Paredes’ likeliest regular role is pinch-hitting for the stronger defenders that start ahead of him.