With the way that Charlie Montoyo has cycled his young players through the DH position lately, the Blue Jays could and should carry that on in the future.
The times are a changing around the Toronto Blue Jays, and thankfully the future looks pretty good.
The Blue Jays may have taken another beating on the mound to the Yankees last night, but the young team continued to show that the future looks very bright in Toronto, at least with the offence. The keys have been handed over to the young kids, and the result has been pretty impressive thus far. Bo Bichette broke a MLB record for the most consecutive games with a double at nine, and the rookie record for a hit streak to start his career. Believe it or not, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. was even better last week, winning the AL player of the week award for his production at the plate.
Those two aren’t the only ones performing at the plate lately either, as Randal Grichuk has been dialled recently, Freddy Galvis has hit another hot streak, and Cavan Biggio is starting to heat up as well. Add in the exciting futures of others like Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Danny Jansen, and more, the core of the lineup for the present and the future is starting to come together already.
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What will be interesting is seeing how the Blue Jays choose to “finish things off” when they get to the point where the front office truly considers this team to be ready to contend. Forgot about the pitching for a moment, because that’s where the bulk of the work still needs to happen. However, if we focus on the lineup, there may only be a spot or two up for grabs in the future core of this group. Things change quickly of course, but some of these guys are establishing themselves in a hurry.
Bichette will be the shortstop, it appears Biggio will likely settle in at second base, and Vlad Jr. is going to stay at third base for at least the next few seasons, even if some folks don’t think he’ll stick there long term. With Gurriel Jr., Grichuk, Derek Fisher, Teoscar Hernandez, and Billy McKinney (plus guys like Anthony Alford still in the minor leagues), the outfield should be more or less taken care of, and should eventually sort itself out.
That leaves first base and designated hitter, and I really do think that Rowdy Tellez will settle in to one of those spots in time. Ideally it would be at first base, or at least he could get the majority of starts there and then Charlie Montoyo could shuffle a few others there as needed. That would leave the DH spot as the one glaring hole going forward, assuming the Blue Jays don’t re-sign Justin Smoak after his contract expires this season, and there are a few options when it comes to best using that spot.
With the way the game has evolved, the Blue Jays could probably add a significant hitter to their lineup, and likely at a pretty reasonable cost. When you look at veterans like Nelson Cruz, or even former Blue Jay Edwin Encarnacion, they have the ability to provide a potent bat that could make a long lineup more dangerous, There should be plenty of payroll space, but again, I don’t think guys that are 35+ are going to make big money in the next few seasons, even if their production (like Cruz) would warrant as much.
The reason for that is because some teams are finding more value in rotating their own players through the DH position, and/or looking for a primary DH that can also add defensive value. That’s the type of thing the Blue Jays could decide to do over the next few seasons, especially because of the depth that could still be on the way. I wrote about how Galvis could still fit with the team in 2020 (he has a club option on his contract for next year), but it would likely take utilizing the DH spot the way Montoyo has lately.
Even beyond 2020 though, the Blue Jays have other talented players on the way in their system, and that could be one way to hang on to many of their own homegrown assets. When others like Kevin Smith, and eventually Jordan Groshans, Orelvis Martinez, Miguel Hiraldo and others could make their way to the highest level, it could be a creative way to make room for players that normally would be blocked. We’ve seen the Blue Jays focus on some positional flexibility with a lot of their premium prospects, and it could help in this case. They may also need that DH spot to keep their glut of outfielders active as well.
However the Blue Jays decide to shape the future of their DH position, I don’t think we’re going to see a David Ortiz, DH-only type in Toronto. The way these talented young kids are showing so far, keeping them in the lineup and resting them in a different way might be the way to go.