Blue Jays: Will there be any place for Ezequiel Carrera?

TORONTO, ON - JULY 24: Ezequiel Carrera
TORONTO, ON - JULY 24: Ezequiel Carrera /

With the signing of Curtis Granderson, Ezequiel Carrera could be viewed as redundant on the Blue Jays’ roster, even if his skillset is a little different.

The Blue Jays finally made another move on Monday, inking outfielder Curtis Granderson to a one year, five million dollar deal to boost the outfield picture for 2018. While the signing has left Blue Jays’ fans somewhat divided, he’s a cheaper potential upgrade, and theoretically leaves the front office with some money to play with before the offseason is over.

While we don’t know for sure how John Gibbons will use Granderson in his lineup, there’s a very good chance he’ll be the subject of a platoon, likely in left field. While he showed the ability to hit for power in 2017 with 26 home runs, he greatly struggled against left-handers and hit for a low average as a whole. Used in the right way he can certainly be an asset, but he’s not the type of player that will move the needle enough to suddenly make the Blue Jays’ a playoff favourite. Still, an upgrade is an upgrade, however you want to look at it.

The signing does a few things for the Blue Jays’ outfield picture. Granderson joins a likely cast that includes Kevin Pillar in centre, Steve Pearce (who could be the platoon partner with Granderson in left field), Ezequiel Carrera, and then a host of youngsters like Teoscar Hernandez, Anthony Alford an more. Hernandez is likely the only one with a realistic shot to break camp with the team, but that’s also contingent on the front office not adding further depth to their outfield picture.

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The player who could be most affected by Granderson’s signing is arguing Ezequiel Carrera, who has been with the Blue Jays for the past few seasons and has been the primary 4th outfielder, albeit one who has played a fair amount. The problem for Carrera is that he’s not terribly gifted on defence, which makes it hard to justify playing him every day just because he can hit for average pretty well. He’s got decent speed but isn’t a huge stolen base threat, has minimal power, and he’s a below average defender, which all equates to a part-time player.

Which is why his roster spot could be in trouble for 2018, especially if the Blue Jays look to add further. I could be wrong on how the Blue Jays plan to deploy the outfielders, but I would expect Pearce and Granderson to form a left field platoon. Granderson has a pretty weak arm at this stage of his career, so playing him in right field isn’t ideal, and again, he can’t hit lefties well enough to be in the lineup. Pillar would remain in centre field, and currently that would have Teoscar Hernandez and Carrera battling for the right field job. With all due respect to Carrera, does anyone see him being the regular out there?

If the Blue Jays don’t add anyone else then “Zeke” is probably safe, but if they do bring in a regular right fielder, is there still room on the roster? Let’s look at it hypothetically for a moment.

C-   Russell Martin

1B- Justin Smoak

2B- Devon Travis

SS- Troy Tulowitzki

3B- Josh Donaldson

LF- Curtis Granderson/Steve Pearce

CF- Kevin Pillar

RF- *Free agent/trade addition

DH- Kendrys Morales

Bench- *Back-up catcher

Bench- Yangervis Solarte

Bench- Granderson/Pearce

Bench- Ezequiel Carrera or Aledmys Diaz*

* Depending on how they want to stack their bench depth

Keep in mind, if the Blue Jays do add to the right field picture they would be choosing from a group that could include Carrera, Hernandez, Dalton Pompey, and many others. At that point, does it make sense to spend 1.9 million on a 5th outfielder? And what if they decide they need/want to carry both Solarte and Diaz to start the season?

Don’t get me wrong, I understand why Gibbons likes Carrera and I’ve watched him at the plate enough to know the underrated value he brings as a hitter. But having a personal affinity for a player doesn’t make for the best team, and if it did then Ryan Goins would have received a multi-year contract.

If the Blue Jays decide to roll with Teoscar Hernandez as the full-time right fielder, then perhaps Carrera has a place on the team as a safety net for the youngster. However, as Ross Atkins and Mark Shapiro continue to survey their team, surely they’ll keep an eye on the overcrowded free agent market, which will hopefully lead to another upgrade to the outfield. Granderson is a decent get for five million, but he’s not enough if the Jays want to be serious, and spending the money on him at all doesn’t really make sense unless you’re planning on being competitive.

Next: Granderson only works as a piece of the puzzle

All of this could lead to Carrera looking for another home in 2018. I’m not saying I’m hoping for the resolution, or that I’m not, but just that it’s a very realistic possibility. We’ll see how the dominoes fall before Opening Day, but there’s plenty of time before that decision will need to be made.