With a plethora of infielders already available at the major league level, as well as some soon to be joining the Blue Jays, does Richard Urena have a future in Toronto?
With Brandon Drury, Aledmys Diaz, Yangervis Solarte, Lourdes Gurriel Jr. as well as even Jon Berti already available at the major league roster, as well as Bo Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. coming next year, there will be a logjam in the infield for the 2019 Blue Jays.
No question about it, next years Blue Jays roster will have to earn their playing time. This year’s outfielders found that out the hard way. After the acquisition of Billy McKinney in the J.A. Happ trade, Randal Grichuk, Kevin Pillar, Teoscar Hernandez, and McKinney all had to earn their playing time, with Hernandez seeing his playing time diminish the most.
Lourdes Gurriel Jr.has gotten most of the attention this year in the middle infield, and deservedly so. Gurriel has slashed .268/.306/.1211 since July, with a .281 batting average on the season, and along with those great numbers, has also had an 11 game multi-hit streak, as well as some terrific defence.
The Blue Jays signed Gurriel to a seven-year, $22 million contract in November of 2016, so it makes sense that the team wants to see what they have in him now.
The Blue Jays acquired Yangervis Solarte last offseason for minor league outfielder Edward Olivares and right-handed pitcher Jared Carkuff. Until the end of June, the Solarte deal was looking like a steal for the Blue Jays. Solarte was hitting .254 with 15 home runs and was a fan favourite in Toronto as the versatile infielder danced his way around the bases every time he hit one out of the ballpark.
Since the beginning of July, Solarte has hit just 2 home runs, his batting average for the season has dropped mightily all the way to .226, and the switch-hitting infielder has been criticized for his lack of hustle around the bases.
Aledmys Diaz, another offseason trade acquisition, has played SS, 2B, 3B, and has been great for the Blue Jays this year. Slashing .264/.302/.759 on the season, Diaz has put up solid offensive numbers, as well as play multiple defensive positions, which is exactly what the Blue Jays picked him up for. The Blue Jays went into the offseason last year with versatility as their top priority – they checked that box after acquiring Solarte and Diaz.
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Brandon Drury, yet another player in the middle infield mix next season, is a player that most Blue Jays fans know relatively little about. Drury played with the Diamondbacks from 2015-2017, before being traded to New York in a three-team trade involving the Rays. Drury started the season as the Yankees opening day 3B, but after severe migraines and headaches landed him on the disabled list, and Miguel Andujar took over at third for the Yanks, Drury lost his job.
After playing just 18 games with New York this season, Drury was traded to Toronto along with McKinney as part of the Happ trade. Drury played only 8 games with Toronto before heading to the DL once again, this time with a broken hand that was suffered while still a member of the Yankees.
With all these options up the middle, and more still to come, does Richard Urena have a future in Toronto? Urena has spent this season in A+ Dunedin as well as AAA Buffalo before being called up to the big league team, in which he slashed .209/.242/.325 between the two minor league levels. After a three-hit game last night, Urena is now hitting .304 on the season with Toronto in 38 games played. At only 22 years old, Urena has upside with his speed, switch-hitting abilities, and potential to play either 2B or SS.
Realistically, the Blue Jays could be looking to trade Urena this offseason with so many options already in the infield. Another possibility is to try and trade Solarte this offseason (https://jaysjournal.com/2018/07/27/blue-jays-yangervis-solarte-next-go/). If Solarte continued his offensive production throughout the year, a trade involving Solarte wouldn’t have been hard to picture at this year’s trade deadline, but after his production dropped right off, despite some trade rumours, Solarte stayed put in Toronto.
With an abundance of options already in the infield, especially the middle infield, a trade involving either Urena or Solarte looks very possible this offseason.