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Blue Jays: Does Rowdy Tellez still have a place going forward?

CLEARWATER, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 25: Rowdy Tellez #44 of the Toronto Blue Jays runs the bases after hitting a three run homerun in the first inning during the spring training game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Spectrum Field on February 25, 2020 in Clearwater, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
CLEARWATER, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 25: Rowdy Tellez #44 of the Toronto Blue Jays runs the bases after hitting a three run homerun in the first inning during the spring training game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Spectrum Field on February 25, 2020 in Clearwater, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /
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With the announcement from the Blue Jays that ladimir Guerrero Jr. is moving to first base, how will that affect owdy Tellez’s place with the team?

I was genuinely surprised by the news from the other day that Vladimir Guerrero Jr. will be moving to first base this season. Not because the decision is all that surprising, just that it came in 2020 rather than a year or two from now.

However, the Blue Jays felt there wasn’t any use in putting the decision off, especially since it seemed inevitable down the line, and Vlad Jr. will immediately get to work at the cold corner. And while that makes sense for the potential phenom and the future of the Blue Jays, it leaves us asking another question.

Does Rowdy Tellez still have a future with this team?

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Respectfully, that was a major question mark going into the 2020 campaign even if Vlad Jr. stayed at third base. Now that he’s been shifted over, Tellez will have to share defensive reps at first base, and probably split some time at designated hitter as well. Tellez and Vlad Jr. won’t be the only two players used as a DH though either, so it likely means a few less at-bats for Rowdy already.

All of that said, I doubt the Blue Jays are writing off the burly slugger just yet. There’s no doubt he’s going to have to prove his value, especially if he’s competing for at-bats as the designated hitter, but he has some desirable skills that could be a nice complement to this lineup. Raw left-handed power like his doesn’t grow on trees, and he’s already put it on display during intrasquad games this week. He also looks like he might be in the best shape of his career, and I’m excited to see how that could translate this year.

Adding to his value is the fact that Tellez won’t be a free agent until after the 2024 season, and he’s actually not even arbitration eligible for the first time until 2022 according to Spotrac.com. The Blue Jays have plenty of talented and inexpensive young players on the roster, but you can never have too many players performing well on minimum contracts.

The biggest obstacle for Tellez and the Blue Jays in the long-term is how they would like to use their DH at-bats, or more specifically, how many plate appearances they’ll be able to give Tellez. Charlie Montoyo and even the front office have talked about the value of rotating players through the DH position and maintaining roster flexibility, keeping players like Vlad Jr. or Bo Bichette in the lineup even on a day when they’re off their feet on defence. While Tellez could be a valuable bat to have off the bench of days that he’s not playing, the question becomes whether the Blue Jays want to use that spot on a first baseman/DH when it could go to a more defensively capable option.

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I believe that the Blue Jays are still open to the idea of having Tellez in their long-term plans, but that will mean that he’s going to have to step it up this season, even with a shortened schedule. As the Blue Jays continue to graduate their talented minor league talent over the next few years, Tellez is going to have to have established himself in order to keep his spot. He has some time left to prove that he belongs in the long-term plans, but with Vlad Jr. moving to first, he’s going to have to start marking his territory pretty soon.

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