While it’s exciting to see Cavan Biggio and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. in the big leagues, this team still needs another outfielder and should look for one at the deadline.
The Blue Jays took a pretty substantial beating at the hands of the San Diego Padres on Saturday afternoon, dropping the second game of their series by a score of 19-4.
While that wasn’t much fun to watch, the Blue Jays have given us a new reason to tune in and watch this young club with the promotions of Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and Cavan Biggio this week. Their offensive talents should help the Jays, however, there wasn’t much they could to save a 15 run loss on Saturday.
There’s no doubt that these guys will be fun to watch, and the fact that they’re joining other youngsters like Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Rowdy Tellez, Danny Jansen and more gives us a better glimpse at the future of this team, even if it’s in its infant stages. However, the young Jays will be interesting for another reason, as they really only have two real outfielders on the roster right now, and only plan on playing one of them regularly.
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We’ll see Randal Grichuk and Jonathan Davis in centre field as a consistent presence, but chances are that Charlie Montoyo will use some combination of Gurriel Jr., Biggio, and Brandon Drury to cover the outfield corners. Each has some experience playing in the outfield, but it’ll still be an adjustment across the board regardless of how athletic and talented they are.
For what it’s worth, I’m all for the experiment, especially in a year that we know this team won’t be making the playoffs. Both Gurriel Jr. and Biggio should develop into good enough MLB hitters to justify playing in the outfield corners, and the Blue Jays are still figuring out what they have in Drury at this point. That said, I do think that Ross Atkins and the rest of the front office need to address the outfield at this year’s trade deadline, and maybe they can even use an area of strength to address an organizational weakness.
Right now the Blue Jays are still waiting for someone other than Grichuk to grab those outfield spots, both now and for the future. It’s still possible that one or more of Teoscar Hernandez, Billy McKinney, Anthony Alford, or even the perennially injured Dalton Pompey could eventually establish themselves, but it’s been a job for the taking all year and no one has been able to do it (to be fair, Pompey has been injured since spring training).
I expect that Atkins will be shopping veterans like Freddy Galvis, Justin Smoak, and possibly half of the starting rotation, as most of them are on the last or second to last year of their current contracts. However, if there’s anything this year has taught us so far, it’s that this organization has a TON of talent in the infield pipeline, and I wouldn’t rule out flipping some of it already, even if most of the best pieces are still prospects.
The Blue Jays have an infield depth chart that includes Guerrero Jr. at third, Tellez at first/DH, and then a middle infield that includes Galvis, Drury, Eric Sogard, Biggio, and Gurriel Jr. In the minor leagues there are options like Richard Urena, the eventual arrival of Bo Bichette, and other high-end prospects like Jordan Groshans, Kevin Smith, Santiago Espinal, Logan Warmoth, and plenty more.
Obviously trading the veterans and getting something back before their contracts expire will be the priority, but if I’m Atkins I’m going into the whole scenario with an open mind. Rival GMs aren’t going to just hand over an elite outfield prospect, but if you can give them a veteran to address a need now (like a Galvis, Smoak, or maybe a healthy Ryan Tepera), and a solid infield prospect like an Espinal, maybe there’s a match.
As I said, I’m in support of the Jays seeing if Gurriel Jr., Biggio, or even Drury can handle the job and add offence to the lineup. However, if it becomes clear that they’re trying to ram a square peg into a round hole, I hope the front office will consider all of their options. Fortunately, they’ll have a little more than two months to figure that out, and maybe, to line up a deal to bring in another outfielder of the future. Right now it still looks like a pretty glaring need.