Blue Jays: Likely gonna have to keep Goins in 2018

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 1: Ryan Goins
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 1: Ryan Goins /
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The Blue Jays need to shore up their middle infield depth for 2018, but the shortstop depth is thin in free agency, which could work in Ryan Goins’ favour.

The free agent hot stove has started out very cold thus far, but don’t expect that to last forever, especially for the Toronto Blue Jays. We’ve talked about it a lot already here at the Jays Journal, with the Blue Jays having several roster needs including shoring up their depth in the middle infield.

A keystone of Troy Tulowitzki and Devon Travis represents a very talented one, but also a duo that is almost guaranteed to land on the disabled list at some point. Combined, they played just 116 games last year, leaving the Blue Jays pretty short on infielders, and pushing Ryan Goins and Darwin Barney into nearly full time duties in 2017.

While both did an admirable job under the circumstances, neither player is necessarily suited to be a full time starter, and Barney is now a free agent as of earlier this week. It’s possible the Blue Jays bring him back, but with needs in several other areas, they may have to use their money in a different way. For example, Ryan Goins will go from making near the MLB minimum to a forecasted salary of 1.8 million in 2018. That is, if the Blue Jays keep him on the roster.

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They may need to whether they want to or not, as many of the best available “utility” types on the free agent market are a stretch at shortstop, something the Blue Jays will need to have covered with Tulowitzki at the top of the depth chart. While Goins and Barney aren’t the most prolific hitters, both performed capably as defensive shortstops, something that’s important for the Blue Jays’ success.

At the moment, the potential names the Blue Jays could look at adding include guys like: Eduardo Nunez, Howie Kendrick, Stephen Drew or even Yunel Escobar on the free agent market, or potential trade options like Jed Lowrie, Josh Harrison or Jurickson Profar. While that’s not an exhaustive list, most of the above players aren’t terribly well suited to play shortstop for an extended stretch, and are better off at second or third. Putting your money on Tulowitzki missing at least one chunk of time, somebody will have to handle the job regularly.

The club does have Richard Urena in the fold, and he could serve in that capacity for the Blue Jays in 2018, but it’s not an ideal fit, especially if the club intends on competing in 2018 as they’ve stated on multiple occasions. Urena showed plenty of flashes of talent at the highest level, but he also proved that he needs more seasoning in Triple A before he’ll be big league ready, and a 2018 season in Buffalo would likely be best for his development, and for the Blue Jays success as well.

An American League bench is always made up of at least one back-up catcher, one outfielder, and one infielder, with the fourth spot being left to suit the needs of the rest of the roster. In 2017, we saw the Blue Jays keep Ryan Goins for that final spot, choosing him over Melvin Upton at the end of spring training. Whether you like Goins or not, it’s a good thing the Blue Jays did keep him around, because they wound up needing him. A lot.

I suspect we’ll see a similar situation play out for the Blue Jays this spring, although it’ll totally depend on who they bring in as a utility infielder, if anyone. If they are able to acquire a capable shortstop then the need to keep Goins around won’t be as great. However, that’s easier said than done, and I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to see him again for next season, patiently waiting for the opportunity to start. If recent history is any indication, it’s just a matter of time.

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