Despite the roster shuffling on Friday night of non-tendering Ryan Goins, and the addition of Aledmys Diaz to the Blue Jays, the team will still need another infielder for their 2018 roster.
The Blue Jays finally had some roster movement to talk about Friday night in what’s been an incredibly slow offseason so far. The non-tender deadline approached at 8pm EST, and with it the Blue Jays decided not to offer contracts to Tom Koehler, and also left out Ryan Goins from the picture, at least for now. For more on those decisions, check out our own Clayton Richer’s piece on the transactions.
The Goins decision made a little more sense a few minutes later when news broke that the Blue Jays had traded for Aledmys Diaz, a shortstop with the St. Louis Cardinals organization. The Jays sent an outfield prospect, J.B. Woodman, back in the deal, and Diaz will presumably take over the position that Goins occupied with the roster. He is primarily a shortstop, and was actually an All-Star in 2016 with the Cardinals when he hit .300 and swatted 17 home runs as a rookie. Unfortunately he took a step back in 2017, which is why the Cardinals deemed him expendable.
However, bringing in Diaz doesn’t mean that the Blue Jays work is done when it comes to their infield depth. Darwin Barney, who became a near full-time starter in 2017 alongside Goins, is a free agent, and unless the Jays re-sign him to a new deal, they would be wise to bring in someone else capable of manning the keystone.
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The unfortunate reality is that both Troy Tulowitzki and Devon Travis, the presumed starters in 2018, are both injury pretty injury prone. They combined to play just 116 games in 2017, leaving the Blue Jays short handed throughout the majority of the season, and pushing Goins and Barney into starting roles, which is arguably a little more than either is capable of. Diaz will be a solid fill in for if one of the two hits the DL in 2018, but what’s the plan if they’re both out for the long term again?
The Blue Jays do have a little bit of depth in their minor league system, as they showcased Richard Urena in September, who is at least a capable defender. He’ll need some more seasoning at the plate though, as he hit just .247 in AA in 2017, and would be best served with a full season in Triple A. Lourdes Gurriel is also progressing nicely, but he doesn’t look like he’s quite ready to make the jump to the highest level either. They also traded for Gift Ngoepe from the Pittsburgh Pirates, but it’s hard to say if he’s capable of contributing much in the big leagues yet either.
Every American League bench if comprised of a back-up catcher, and at least one infielder, and one outfielder. The fourth spot is generally determined by team need, and in the case of the Blue Jays that depth will be needed in the infield, at least the way the roster is constructed at the moment.
Whether it’s bringing back Barney, asking Goins to come back on a discount, or pursing another option, the Blue Jays aren’t done with their middle infield picture just yet.