The Blue Jays are developing a pretty good infield logjam, and as a result, some players may move around. Some infielders may end up moving to the outfield.
It’s a good problem to have when a team has too many players for not enough positions, and that’s exactly what the Blue Jays are looking at with their infield ranks these days.
Competition is definitely a great thing, and right now the Blue Jays are finding a way to get everyone in the lineup with regularity, but it’s not hard to see that there could be a “good problem” at some point when everyone gets healthy, and some of the younger players push for a MLB promotion.
Right now the Blue Jays have an infield picture that includes Freddy Galvis, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Brandon Drury, Eric Sogard, Alen Hanson, Justin Smoak and Rowdy Tellez. Lourdes Gurriel Jr. is starting to come around in Buffalo since his demotion, and Cavan Biggio is having a fantastic start to his Triple-A season. Richard Urena has been quietly excellent this year and probably deserves a big league spot, Devon Travis will eventually be healthy, and Bo Bichette is going to push for a big league role at some point after he returns from a broken hand in 4-6 weeks.
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As I said, it’s a good problem to have, but it’s one that the Blue Jays will have to deal with eventually. Not everyone is going to play to the best of expectations so some of it will work itself out (ie. Hanson likely won’t last forever), but Ross Atkins and Charlie Montoyo may have to work together on a few different solutions in the future. There’s always the possibility of a trade or two, but I’m sure they’ll want to hang on to as many assets as possible as they rebuild this club.
One of the likely solutions will be to move a few players around the diamond, and more specifically, to see how many of these infielders can make good outfielders. A few of them already have experience out there, but it’s possible that the Blue Jays could experiment quite a bit in Buffalo, and maybe even in Toronto this year and next.
Dan Shulman mentioned on yesterday’s broadcast that it’s possible that Lourdes Gurriel Jr. could be a candidate to do just that, especially after the front office feels that he’s regained his lost defensive confidence. His shaky throwing arm landed him back in Triple-A earlier this month, mostly in the interest of dropping the pressure on the young player and helping him get his groove back. It looks like he’s starting to get there and don’t be surprised if he gets a few starts in the outfield in Buffalo before he returns to Toronto. It would be very helpful in order to get his bat in the lineup, and could potentially improve the outfield depth in a big way as well. He hasn’t played in the outfield much since 2016, but he’s athletic enough that I’m willing to bet he can handle the gig just fine.
Cavan Biggio worked on his outfield chops during the Arizona Fall League season last year, and also appeared out there during spring training. As he continues to tear the cover off the ball in Triple-A, it would behove the Blue Jays to continue to give him reps in the outfield corners. He’s got a big potential power bat that would play out there, and the added flexibility gives the Blue Jays another option for now, and for the future.
Right now I expect that Brandon Drury is playing for his future more than he may even realize. He has a few years of arbitration control left and a lot of positional flexibility, but he’s going to have to perform if he’s going to hold off the talented youngsters in the minor league system. He’s already lost his starting third base gig to Vladimir Guerrero Jr., and the same will eventually happen when Bichette, Biggio, Gurriel Jr., and other talented minor leaguers like Kevin Smith, Jordan Groshans, and Santiago Espinal earn a big league promotion.
This “problem” isn’t something that Montoyo and Atkins have to deal with right away, but it’s not hard to see what’s coming down the pipe at some point. The best thing to do would be to get ahead of it, and if that means that Gurriel Jr. and Biggio need to mash Triple-A pitching while they get comfortable in the outfield, then so be it. However the club chooses to handle it, it’s a great sign for the future.