Eric Sogard has been phenomenal this season both in AAA and with the Toronto Blue Jays. How will his strong performance this season impact other roster decisions as the season progresses?
Eric Sogard was signed by the Toronto Blue Jays this past offseason to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training for the 2019 season. While many thought this was a small roster move, I don’t think anybody expected the season Sogard would be having for the Blue Jays.
When spring training was over, Sogard was optioned to the Buffalo Bisons as he had lost the bench role on the major league club to Richard Urena. Sogard had a pretty average spring, slashing .239/.362/.370 and spending most of his time at almost all of the infield positions except for 1B.
During his nine games in Buffalo, he would slash .267/.395/.433 with one home run and seven walks. Similar to spring training, he would spend most of his time at 2B and 3B and committed one error while with the Bisons.
With Urena unable to join the team (he had to wait 10 days after being sent down when Clay Buchholz joined the active roster) and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. struggling, Sogard would see his name penciled into the Blue Jays lineup when he was called up to the big league team on April 16th.
What would follow this call up was a fantastic stretch by the utility infielder, who is currently slashing an incredible .394/.444/.636 through eight games with the Blue Jays. He has also found some power in his bat with two home runs, and has been a force at the top of the lineup.
It is good to see Sogard succeeding at the top of the lineup. The Blue Jays have rotated through a few different options at the top of the lineup, and Eric Sogard is proving that he can be entrusted at number 1 in the batting order. He has just the right amount of experience, speed, and baseball ability to be at the top of the order.
Now baseball is a numbers game, and when it comes to the active roster, tough decisions will lie ahead for the organization this season.
Injured players like David Phelps, Ryan Borucki and Devon Travis will most likely be coming back in late May and will need a spot on the roster. Gurriel Jr. is likely coming back in the near future as he is currently playing better both at the plate and in the field (he currently has no errors while playing at 2nd base in AAA).
With Sogard playing as well as he is, there may be a tough situation when it comes to ‘who stays and who goes’ when players start returning from injury and/or start progressing through the minor league system.
Given that he does have some leadership and veteran experience, players like Alen Hanson, Sam Gaviglio, and Socrates Brito may see their time in Toronto come to an end when players return from injury midway through the season. Brandon Drury could be moved to another team or to AAA as well, but he too is currently on a hot streak after a bit of a slow start to the season.
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The more difficult decisions will come later this year if the prospects in the Blue Jays system are deemed ready before the September roster expansion.
Now there is obviously a lot of baseball left in the season and none of the prospects besides Vladimir Guerrero Jr. are coming up within the next few days, so it is a bit earlier to play the ‘what if’ game.
Given how Eric Sogard has been playing well at the leadoff spot and does have that added leadership in the clubhouse, it would be tough to reason sending him down to the minor leagues if the need arises.
Looking at the big picture, tough roster decisions will lie ahead as a new era of baseball begins in Toronto with younger prospects vying for playing time on the active roster.
It will interesting to see who management will keep around for the long haul and if Eric Sogard will keep up his monster season over the long run.