The Blue Jays have been lucky enough to draft, and to acquire plenty of fantastic infielders throughout the years. Whether it was bringing in stars through trades like with Roberto Alomar, or more recently with Josh Donaldson, there has been plenty of luck on the Blue Jays’ side.
That said, there have been many others who haven’t lived up to expectations, and have been more of a set back than a step forward for the organization. You could make a case for several players at each position, but here’s who I’ve selected as the biggest infield busts in Blue Jays history.
Catcher- J.P. Arencibia
This one hurts me to write down, as I was a big fan of the player, and I’m still a fan of Arencibia’s work today as a baseball analyst. He was supposed to be the franchise catcher of the future in Toronto, and instead his early promise turned into a career that fizzled out far too early.
After hitting 23 home runs and driving in 78 RBI in his first full season as a starter, the Blue Jays started to view him as the catcher of the future. Not only did that set them back after Arencibia failed to develop into ‘the man’ behind the plate, but they also traded both Yan Gomes and Travis d’Arnaud.
After hitting .193 in his third season as the starter in 2013, the Blue Jays decided to move on from their 2007 first round pick, and he played his last big league game in 2015.
First Base- Brett Wallace
There are probably better choices here, and I’m sure there will be plenty of people who point out that he was barely even a Blue Jay. However, if you were there when the Roy Halladay trade went down, you’ll remember the hype around the prospects the Blue Jays got in return (more on that later).
The Blue Jays acquired Wallace in exchange for Michael Taylor, who had been part of the package that came back for the Doc. For a time, Wallace was considered the top prospect in the Blue Jays’ system, and even ranked as high as #27 on Baseball America’s prospect list.
However, as was aptly pointed out by Keegan Matheson at Jays Journal back in 2014, Wallace “embodies the age old baseball saying: prospects will break your heart”. He just never panned out as a big leaguer. Not in Toronto, or anywhere else he stopped on the road to big league glory. It happens, and in this case it was a tremendous disappointment for Blue Jays fans.
Second Base- Carlos Garcia
I debated a few different names here, but I settled on a guy that only played one season for the Blue Jays back in 1997.
Carlos Garcia arrived in Toronto along with Orlando Merced, and it looked like he might be the best solution at second base since Roberto Alomar had left after the glory years. He had been an All-Star with the Pirates in 1994, and was a solid candidate to star for the Blue Jays as he entered his age 29 season.
Instead, the Blue Jays received the beginning of his steep MLB decline, as he slashed just .220/.253/.329 in 103 games in his lone campaign in Toronto. He made brief stops in Anaheim and San Diego playing just 25 more games as a pro before his career was over. Sometimes it happens that fast.
Shortstop- Russ Adams
There were several players I could have plugged into this spot, but I think Russ Adams stands out as the biggest shortstop bust in Blue Jays history.
He debuted in 2004, but took the full-time job for the first time in 2005 when he slashed .256/.325/.383 as a rookie, adding eight home runs, 63 RBI, and 27 doubles. He wasn’t showing Gold Glove ability at short, but looked like he would be able to handle the part. Unfortunately that didn’t last long for the 2002 first round pick.
Adams is probably as well known for who the Blue Jays could have drafted as he is for what he accomplished on the field. In the same draft that the Blue Jays selected Adams, names like Cole Hamels, Nick Swisher, Scott Kazmir, and Matt Cain came afterward, making it that much more difficult to swallow.
Third Base- Eric Hinske
I almost gave this spot to Corey Koskie, the Canadian free agent that was signed and hyped to the extreme. However, I can’t think of a guy that I was more personally excited about as a rookie, to fall flat on his face for the majority of the rest of his career.
Eric Hinske was one of, if not the best player on the 2002 version of the Toronto Blue Jays. He stormed on to the American League by slashing .279/.365/.481 with 24 home runs, 83 RBI, and 38 doubles in 151 games. He was good enough to win the Rookie of the Year award, and looked like a real building block for the next generation of competitive teams in Toronto after the glory years of the 90’s.
Unfortunately Hinske never repeated those numbers and was out of Toronto by 2006. He severed as a versatile bench piece throughout his career and retired after the 2013 season. Considering how it all started for the power-hitting third baseman.