The Toronto Blue Jays don’t quite yet seem prepared to hand over the starting shortstop job to Lourdes Gurriel Jr. without some healthy internal competition.
Yesterday the Blue Jays brought veteran shortstop Freddy Galvis into the fold inking the 29-year old for the 2019 campaign, the deal also includes an option for 2020. Following the release of Troy Tulowitzki, it appeared Lourdes Gurriel Jr. would have a clear path to consistent playing time at shortstop.
Galvis is a defensive upgrade over Gurriel and also has previous MLB experience at second base (94 games), third base (27 games) and outfield (12 games). Galvis could also take playing time away from either Devon Travis or Brandon Drury if one of them struggles out of the gate.
Gurriel had a breakout rookie campaign offensively setting a franchise record for consecutive multi-hit games. However, it was on the defensive side where the 25-year old needs to improve if he plans on being a fixture in the middle of the infield. Last season, Gurriel made nine errors in 265 total chances which was good enough for a .966 fielding percentage.
In comparison, Galvis also made nine errors last season, however, he had 646 total chances and registered a .986 fielding percentage in a much larger sample size.
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Both Travis and Drury are hopeful of bounce-back campaigns in 2019 but if Travis fails to answer the bell offensively, Gurriel could slide over to second base while Galvis mans the more defensively demanding position at short.
Drury will essentially be a placeholder until the gifted Vladimir Guerrero Jr. makes his debut which in all likelihood will come before the end of April. Drury can also play the outfield and second base which should provide him with a compelling case to remain on the big league roster even after the Vladdy era begins.
The Blue Jays are attempting an expedited rebuild and are going to throw as much against the wall in 2019, in order to see what sticks for 2020. There will be a plethora of storylines and healthy internal competition come spring training and that is never a bad thing.