Blue Jays: Who’s next in line for a call-up for middle infield depth?
The Toronto Blue Jays were dealt a bit of a scare on Tuesday night towards the end of the trashing of the Chicago White Sox when Aledmys Diaz left the ballgame with back spasms. Luckily for the Blue Jays and the hot Diaz, it appears as if Diaz will be good to go this weekend against the Texas Rangers in Arlington. That makes you wonder who’s next up in the event they need another infielder.
You can cross out Richard Urena from the equation as he’s starting the year on the disabled list for the Buffalo Bisons. That really leaves two options and they’re both very interesting cases as to who to turn to if the Blue Jays need another middle infielder. The two options would be the veteran Danny Espinosa and Lourdes Gurriel.
Espinosa was signed towards the end of spring training on a minor league deal and is currently not on the 40 man roster. Espinosa has had tons of major league experience and brings a good glove to the table. He also has oodles of pop in his bat but that comes with a bundle of strikeouts and not much contact mixed in.
Lourdes Gurriel is about to begin his season in AA New Hampshire with other studs in the system in Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette. Gurriel was signed early in the off-season at the end of the 2016 season right when they signed Kendrys Morales. Gurriel figures to be a key cog for the Blue Jays for years down the road and can be a very versatile player as well. In a perfect case scenario when he develops, he could turn into something similar to Marwin Gonzalez for the Houston Astros.
The big question will be whether or not the Blue Jays will want to call up Espinosa and make some room on the 40 man roster, which is filled with names who’d have a good shot at not getting through waivers. Espinosa’s contract would then become fully guaranteed, adding to the payroll on the MLB roster. That shouldn’t play a big deal when it comes to the decision, but the 40 man decision will loom large.
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There are a limited amount of candidates who would be worthy of a DFA off the 40 man. Sam Gaviglio would be the top candidate, but he is currently slated to be starting depth in Buffalo as he’s opening in the rotation. Given the outfield clutter going forward, Dwight Smith Jr. could be another option for a DFA, but he would likely get claimed. Another creative option would be to 60 day someone and nobody appears to be a candidate for that.
Lourdes Gurriel’s contract is already against the MLB payroll and he is on the 40 man roster, requiring someone being optioned or a DL stint by one of the current middle infielders on the big league roster. He also hasn’t even started his season yet for the Fisher Cats. The Blue Jays would likely want to give Gurriel some time to get his season underway before a call-up.
Luckily, as of now, this isn’t a decision that needs to be made immediately as Aledmys Diaz should be good to go for the weekend. If the back spasms continue to be a bother and it leads to a DL stint, my guess would be the Blue Jays bring up Danny Espinosa. He likely signed and was fine knowing he was destined for Buffalo knowing he’d be the first guy up should they need another middle-infielder.
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The longer the season gets underway, the likelier and likelier Lourdes Gurriel could jump Espinosa and be the first one up, especially if he gets off to a hot start at the plate.