Blue Jays middle infielder, Ryan Goins, enters the 2017 spring training out of minor league options. The team will either have to take him North on opening day, or risk losing him through waivers.
The Blue Jays will have a few tough decisions to make during spring training this year. In year’s past, it’s been pretty common to see a group of arms battling for a back of the rotation job, a slew of minor league signings trying to crack the bullpen, and youngsters trying to establish themselves with a strong showing.
For the Blue Jays this year, the rotation should be set in stone, barring injury, and the bullpen really only has a couple spots to be determined. This spring camp will be less pitching focused than it has been in years.
That takes us to the offensive side of the ball, where the Blue Jays have a couple important decisions to make. The left field situation has been well documented, with some combination of Ezequiel Carrera, Melvin Upton, and Dalton Pompey all vying for playing time, and it represents the only really question mark about the starting lineup.
On the bench, the Blue Jays signed Jarrod Saltalamacchia to be their back-up catcher, there’ll be one of Steve Pearce or Justin Smoak (whomever isn’t starting at first base on a given day), and also one of the aforementioned options as the 4th outfielder. That leaves the utility job, and the Blue Jays re-upped Darwin Barney this offseason to a 1 year, 2.8875 million dollar deal.
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While it’s nice to see the Blue Jays have a decent bench in place already, its construction leaves me with one question. What is to become of Ryan Goins?
Goins enters the 2017 out of minor league options, meaning the Blue Jays cannot send him to Triple A Buffalo unless he passes through waivers. While it’s possible he could sneak through, Goins is one of the strongest defenders in baseball, and it’s hard to imagine that SOMEONE can’t find a spot for him.
With the ability to bring plus-plus defence at shortstop and second base, and also capably fill in at third base, Goins can make an impact even without picking up a bat. He also saw time at first base, and even tried his hand at the outfield last year in an attempt to further expand his defensive skill base. He performed capably regardless of where John Gibbons slotted him on the field, even making a pitching appearance.
Of course, the problem for Goins has always been his bat. In limited opportunity last season, Goins hit .186/.228/.306 over 183 at bats. He actually began the season starting at second while Devon Travis recovered from his shoulder injury, but struggled mightily on offence. Darwin Barney was eventually given an opportunity, which he ran with, leaving Goins in the dust and back to trying to find a role with the team. He eventually found himself back in Buffalo once Travis was healthy enough to return.
And that’s the situation he’s faced with again in 2017, only this time, the Blue Jays won’t be able to protect his place in the organization. If and when another team sees him become available, it’s very likely someone will take a chance on his All-World defence, even if it’s just in a utility role. If Goins can get himself back to his 2015 slash line of .250/.318/.354, he should have no trouble finding a roster spot, and maybe even semi-regular playing time.
Barring injury however, it’s unlikely that happens with the Blue Jays in 2017.