This season, the Blue Jays used seven different players at third base, with Santiago Espinal leading the charge at 81 appearances with Cavan Biggio slotting in behind at 51. Other players to suit up at the hot corner for the Jays this season are Joe Panik, Breyvic Valera, Kevin Smith, Jake Lamb, and Vladimir Guerrero Jr., although Vladdy only spent 2.0 innings across the diamond from first base this season.
Biggio was given the role to begin the year but struggled to find a groove at third, committing nine errors and sporting a .935 fielding percentage before missing time on the IL with a few different injuries while also being moved to play second, first, and right field before the end of the season. Espinal had four errors this year and finished with a .980 fielding percentage, a step in the right direction for the Dominican product looking to earn an increased role on the club next season.
If the Blue Jays truly want to utilize their internal options at third base for the 2022 season, it will most likely bring forth an interesting competition come Spring Training, as Espinal, Biggio, Smith, and Valera could all be competing for the Opening Day spot while also getting pressure from top prospects Jordan Groshans and Orelvis Martinez, both of whom have experience at third base in the minor leagues. Groshans is closer to reaching the majors compared to Martinez but the Blue Jays #2 ranked prospect could run the farm system quickly given how hot his bat can be and find himself in the mix starting in 2023.
It will be interesting to see if the Blue Jays are willing to put Biggio back at third base or if they do value him as a utility-type player rather than at a dedicated position given his versatility. Giving more reps to Espinal may seem like the move at the time being but if he struggles out of the gate or hits the IL, Smith or Valera could also be given a look although both did not impress in the batter’s box when in the Majors this year.
The Blue Jays have a few different options to consider when it comes to third base for next season, whether it be internally, through free agency, or trade.
With the upcoming offseason being dominated early on whether the Blue Jays are going to be able to re-sign Marcus Semien and/or Robbie Ray, it wouldn’t be surprising if the rumours start to trickle in that the club is looking at upgrading at third base via free agency or possibly by trade.
There are some talented players who will be available like Kris Bryant and Eduardo Escobar while the likes Nolan Arenado (player option), Kyle Seager (club option), Matt Carpenter (club option), and Jose Ramirez (club option) have the potential to be available given their options for the upcoming season. Seager is most likely heading to free agency as the Mariners will probably not pick up his option while I can almost guarantee Ramirez will not have his option declined by Cleveland because of how team-friendly his deal is over the next two seasons.
Bryant would be a great option to have at third base for the Jays but he would be the most expensive of the group given his current career stats, a .278/.376/.504 slash line with 167 home runs, 487 RBI, and a .880 OPS. Signing Seager or Escobar may also be solid options for the left side of the infield, both of whom possess more experience than the rest of the possible internal options on the current Jays roster.
While free agency is one route the club could take, the front office could also try and trade for a third baseman, something the club explored this past season with Cleveland in regards to Ramirez. With his team-friendly contract and stellar play on the field, any deal for the switch-hitting infielder will cost significant prospect capital, something the Blue Jays may not be willing to part with after trading Austin Martin and Simeon Woods-Richardson at the trade deadline.
Overall, the Blue Jays have a few different options they can explore when it comes to third base for next season. Each option has there own pros and cons but while the price would be high, acquiring Ramirez would be an absolute boost to a team that already features a lot of firepower in the lineup even if Semien leaves the team this offseason.
I also think Espinal has earned at least an extended look next Spring on whether to be given the reigns at third base given how well he played this year, even before he went on the injured list towards the end of the campaign.
What do you think the Blue Jays should do this offseason when it comes to third base?