It’s no secret that Vladimir Guerrrero Jr. wants to return to third base this season, but the Blue Jays have a plan for him for the time being.
According to Charlie Montoyo’s comments this week, he’s committed to Vlad Jr. being his primary first baseman, and sliding Cavan Biggio over to third. The rest of the infield will be rounded out by Bo Bichettte at shortstop, and Marcus Semien at second base.
That doesn’t mean that young Vlad has to give up on the idea of getting back to his preferred position, and the Blue Jays’ skipper sounds as though he’s open to the idea of maintaining as much flexibility as possible.
"“My first baseman is Vlad Guerrero and my third baseman is Biggio, but if we’re facing a tough lefty or something and I’m looking to give Biggio a day off, then Vladdy could play third.”"
That’s the sort of opportunity that could open the door for Vlad Jr. to impress this year. It’s no surprise that the Blue Jays are reluctant to bet on his defence at the hot corner, but having the option to start him there, even once in a while, will make the roster more dangerous.
Montoyo did indicate that he and Ross Atkins have spoken with the young slugger about their plans for 2021, saying, “Our main message was ‘Become a Gold Glove first baseman and then we’ll move you to third, see how it goes.'”
We’ll see how it goes indeed, but one thing we know is that Guerrero Jr. has always displayed soft hands on defence, as well as a strong throwing arm. With a new commitment to his fitness, it wouldn’t be surprising at all to see him thrive at first base, and hopefully show some improvement at third as well. His biggest issue over the last few years was the way he moved to the ball, and chances are we’ll see an improvement in that area just with the shape he showed up in this spring.
If the 21-year-old can give the Blue Jays that option, it just makes the lineup even better. For now though, it sounds like Vlad Jr. still has some things to prove at first base, and fair enough.