The Blue Jays are going to need to replace Marcus Semien somehow if they can’t re-sign him, but that doesn’t mean they have to find a long-term fix.
For those who haven’t been following much so far this offseason, I would sum things up like this: I think the Jays are comfortable entering the 2022 campaign with Cavan Biggio and Santiago Espinal splitting duties at either second or third base. If they can re-sign Semien, those two would play at the hot corner. If Semien walks, it’s possible they find a third baseman and the duo works at second base, which is a more natural position for Biggio.
I really feel like Semien is the key to a lot of the Blue Jays’ strategy this offseason, both for how they are going to approach things this winter, and maybe even with a longer-term lens as well.
What will make things very interesting is if Semien signs elsewhere and the Blue Jays have to decide how to fill the gap. They could look at other free agents like Corey Seager, Carlos Correa, Trevor Story, Javier Baez, or others, but my guess is they’ll avoid the long-term market outside of a possible reunion with Semien. I’ve talked a lot about the long-term budget restraints that Ross Atkins will need to think about, but in this case it’s more than that. I would argue that the Blue Jays may only need a short-term solution.
I’ve felt that way for a while because of the presence of Orelvis Martinez in the minor league system, who I’ve viewed as the third baseman of the future in Toronto for a while. However, I’m starting to wonder if ol’ Orelvis may have to find another place to fit into the future plans for the Blue Jays, because Gabriel Moreno might beat him to locking up the hot corner.
Moreno has been the talk of the offseason so far, and with good reason. After tearing it up in Double-A for most of the 2021 campaign, Moreno has been one of the stars of the Arizona Fall League, routinely drawing media coverage and rave reviews from scouts. It’s only a 17 game sample to look at, but he’s slashed .348/.427/.536 with one home run, 10 doubles, and 17 RBI over just 69 at-bats. The AFL is far from an easy league either, which makes Moreno’s standout play all the more exciting.
Many Blue Jays fans have viewed Moreno as the catcher of the future in Toronto, myself included. However, after hearing comments from Ross Atkins earlier this week, we might be seeing a shift in attitude when it comes to the 21 year old. His bat might be so special that the Jays would rather see him playing a different position, which would allow him to play nearly every day rather than needing routine rest as a catcher, and it would be easier on his body in general.
Whether the Blue Jays decide to pursue that route or not, they’re going to need a solution for the infield in 2022 if they want to be serious contenders. Moreno is destined to start his season in Triple-A from the look of things, and that will be all the more cemented if he’s focusing on third base rather than catching. Again, I don’t know that they’ll shift the plan for the organization’s top prospect or not, but he’s going to need some time to adjust even if he’s looked good there in limited action.
With all of that in mind, I think it’s safe to say that the Blue Jays would prefer a short-term solution for next season, at least at third base. That could come in the form of turning back to Espinal and/or Biggio, especially if Semien returns, or they may look to sign a veteran to a one, or maybe two year deal at most. A player like Kyle Seager could be a legitimate candidate for such a thing, especially if the Jays are willing to overpay a bit for one year, or they could look around at the trade market as well for player that fits a similar description.
The more I think about it, the less I see the Blue Jays getting into the long-term market for an infielder, unless his name is Marcus Semien. I could be wrong when all is said and done, but with talent like Moreno and Martinez not far away (not to mention Jordan Groshans), I doubt the Blue Jays want to block the path to the big leagues for very long.