Blue Jays: What to do with centre field going forward

TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 5: Randal Grichuk #15 of the Toronto Blue Jays leaps and makes a catch against the wall taking away potential extra bases from Kevin Kiermaier #39 of the Tampa Bay Rays in the third inning during MLB game action at Rogers Centre on September 5, 2018 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 5: Randal Grichuk #15 of the Toronto Blue Jays leaps and makes a catch against the wall taking away potential extra bases from Kevin Kiermaier #39 of the Tampa Bay Rays in the third inning during MLB game action at Rogers Centre on September 5, 2018 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) /
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After trading Kevin Pillar, Randal Grichuk has been the centre fielder in Toronto. After Jonathan Davis started there Friday, what’s the plan going forward?

There’s a lot of excitement about the future of the Blue Jays infield, and that’s because of the presence of high-end prospects like Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (who have already debuted), Bo Bichette, Cavan Biggio, Jordan Groshans, Kevin Smith and more.

Unfortunately the same can’t be said for the future of the outfield.

Despite their recent struggles, you could argue that Charlie Montoyo has already had a tough job getting all of their talented infielders into the lineup. That’s a good problem to have of course, but with the opposite going on in the outfield we’ve witnessed way too many games featuring the likes of Socrates Brito, the struggles of Teoscar Hernandez, and more recently the auditions of guys like Hanson and Brandon Drury in right field.

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Randal Grichuk has been about the only constant in the outfield, other than Hernandez struggling through regular playing time. He started the season in his customary spot in right field, but moved to the middle of the diamond after the trade of Kevin Pillar. He’s fared just fine there so far, earning a +0.1 dWAR rating according to baseballreference.com, but was back in right field on Monday night after some roster shuffling.

We won’t know for sure if it was a one night swap out, but Jonathan Davis got the start in centre field against the Chicago White Sox and figures to get some significant playing time going forward, at least for the next few weeks as the latest audition for an outfielder’s job. Davis has earned the opportunity after a cup of coffee in the big leagues last year, and by starting the 2019 season with a .306/.493/.633 slash line in 16 games in Triple-A, adding four home runs, four doubles, and four stolen bases.

Davis has the speed to be a potential asset in centre field, but he has a lot of work to do to earn a permanent spot on a big league roster, let alone in the starting lineup. For that reason, I was a little surprised to see Grichuk moved over to right field against the White Sox, although again, it could be a one-night thing that I’m making too much out of.

For what it’s worth, I think Grichuk makes a decent centre fielder and should be able to hold the job down until someone comes along and forces him to move to an outfield corner. That won’t be a bad thing, as he has the tools to be a plus-defender in the corner, while I’m not sure that the same could be said as the anchor of the outfield. Still, if he’s going to be the most consistent figure in the outfield, I’d personally rather see him stay in centre unless the Blue Jays plan on making Davis a regular.

When you add in that two other candidates haven’t been options yet, the opportunity is there for Davis right now. I think most of us expected that Anthony Alford might have the centre field job by now this season, but he’s had a tough start in Buffalo so far and needs some more work. Unfortunately, Dalton Pompey‘s concussion symptoms haven’t allowed him to take the job that could have been his by now either, and it woudl be great if the baseball gods could stop picking on him for a while.

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Add it all up and the outfield situation is very fluid at the moment. Both Cavan Biggio and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. have been getting defensive reps in the corners in Buffalo as well, so maybe Charlie Montoyo just wants to keep everyone ready for whatever configuration he may need to put together in short, and longer term future. That’s more than fair of course, but if it were up to me I’d leave Grichuk’s spot in centre alone, at least for now.

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