Blue Jays: The plan for Gio Urshela
After being acquired from the Cleveland Indians this week, infielder Gio Urshela made his Blue Jays debut on Saturday, going 1-for-2 with a single. The question is: how will the Jays use him in the coming weeks?
Some believed that the acquisition of Gio Urshela meant that there was a bigger trade coming, or perhaps that the Jays were giving up for the year and that they simply needed a stopgap to eat up innings in the infield.
Neither of those are true, as confirmed by Sportsnet insider Shi Davidi on Saturday’s edition of Blue Jays Central. In an interview with Hazel Mae, Davidi elaborated on just how the Blue Jays will use the young Colombian. The following is a transcription of Davidi’s comments, written exactly as it was spoken:
"“The plan for him is to become, or at least have a chance to become, their utility backup infielder, who can play at short, at second base, at third base, he’s played some first base in his career as well. I had a chance to ask him: “Hey, how comfortable are you at shortstop? How much have you played?” and he made a note that he originally signed as a shortstop even though he did come up as a third baseman, he’s got 32 games over the course of his minor league career at shortstop, but because he’s got really good hands, he’s got good footwork, that should allow him to transfer over relatively seamlessly to shortstop.”"
Mae proceeded to ask Davidi if the recent defensive struggles of Lourdes Gurriel Jr. were any sort of a factor in the decision to go out and get Urshela, to which he replied:
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"“I think the Blue Jays have put a lot on [Gurriel] in a short amount of time. I don’t think they expected him to be their everyday guy, they wanted to be able to use him to spell Aledmys Diaz at shortstop and Devon Travis at second base and because of the injuries and underperformance on Devon Travis, he’s in a position now where he has to start. So, I think that’s certainly a factor in the situation, but I also do think that the Blue Jays want to see what they have in Gurriel as well.”"
Over the course of his major league career, Urshela has played but 20 innings at short, committing no errors and turning two double plays. It remains to be seen where his bat will fit into the struggling Blue Jays lineup, but his defense is certainly a welcome addition, especially given the tendency of Blue Jays starters to put the ball in play and depend on the infield to get outs.
A day after this interview, Gurriel was sent down to Triple-A Buffalo. In a corresponding move, the Jays called up former first-round draft pick Deck McGuire. The move confirms Davidi’s thoughts that Urshela will continue to serve as a backup infielder, playing two or three games a week and hitting in the bottom third of the order.