Is Jordan Groshans the Blue Jays answer at third base this season?

Mar 1, 2021; Dunedin, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays Jordan Groshans #77 poses during media day at TD Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: MLB photos via USA TODAY Sports
Mar 1, 2021; Dunedin, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays Jordan Groshans #77 poses during media day at TD Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: MLB photos via USA TODAY Sports /

Heading into the 2021 campaign, Blue Jays prospect Jordan Groshans was coming off a year playing ball at the alternate training site and a 2019 season where he spent most of the campaign on the injured list with a foot injury, appearing in only 23 games with the Class A Lansing Lugnuts.

A first-round pick out of Magnolia High School back in 2018, Groshans has been a staple on the Blue Jays’ top prospect list since being drafted, with scouts lauding his approach at the plate and ability to hit the ball for both contact and power. Dubbed as one of the top prep hitters in the draft that year, Groshans was able to find that success early in Lansing during his sophomore campaign, slashing .337/.427/.482 with two home runs and a .909 OPS before the injury finished his season. This past year, Groshans was promoted to AA New Hampshire and continued to hit the ball well, posting a .817 OPS through 278 at-bats while playing in 75 games, missing a couple of weeks at the end of the year with another injury.

Defensively, Groshans has spent a majority of his time at shortstop (84 games) but also has some experience at third base, to the tune of a .898 fielding percentage through 352.0 innings of work.

Looking back to earlier this offseason before the lockout and CBA negotiations, the Blue Jays and their fanbase were (and still are) hellbent on acquiring a Major League third baseman to shore up the infield and supplement the loss of Marcus Semien’s bat in the lineup. This makes sense considering the current solution at third base is either Santiago Espinal, Cavan Biggio, Otto Lopez, or Kevin Smith come Opening Day barring outside reinforcements.

Most fans have their sights set on Cleveland Guardians’ third baseman Jose Ramirez or Oakland Athletics Platinum Glove Award winner Matt Chapman, with each player having their own set of pros and cons when it comes to the Blue Jays and potential trade options. The club even explored a deal for Ramirez earlier this season but it never materialized. In a perfect world, either player would be a solid addition to the active roster but there is no guarantee the Blue Jays can pull off a trade with either club this season.

With the offseason currently at a standstill and CBA negotiations dominating the headlines instead of trade rumours and free-agent signings, what happens if the Blue Jays don’t add a player like Ramirez or Chapman this winter? Well, most likely Espinal or Smith will get their chances to take over at the hot corner and battle it out in Dunedin but what if they start to struggle or if they end up on the injured list for a long period of time?

While fans are focused on trading for a third baseman, Blue Jays prospect Jordan Groshans could be the club’s long-term solution for the hot corner.

Enter Jordan Groshans at third base.

I don’t necessarily think the Texas product will crack the lineup for Opening Day even if he has a monster Spring Training (if they even start on time with the CBA nonsense ongoing) but he should get a chance to begin the year in AAA with the Buffalo Bisons. He has primarily spent his time at shortstop but if I were the Blue Jays, I would consider giving him some more reps at the hot corner considering current shortstop Bo Bichette is not going anywhere any time soon.

If his bat can continue to play and produce as we have seen from him in previous seasons, it is not unrealistic to think that Groshans could be Major League ready by the end of the year, maybe even sooner if the above scenarios involving Espinal/Smith end up playing out worse for wear. The biggest question mark would be his defensive ability at the MLB level. He has the hands and athletic ability to get to the ball as well as an arm to make the throw across the diamond but has to put it together and improve the .863 fielding percentage he posted at third base with the Fisher Cats last season. I personally think having him move to that position and increasing the reps will get the desired results that the club will be looking for, especially since his current position is kind of blocked by a generational talent with contract control.

Overall, while fans (and myself included at times) are so focused on trying to improve the roster with a big name like Ramirez or Chapman, there are internal options that could provide some benefits if given an opportunity to showcase what they can do at the big-league level. Orelvis Martinez is another prospect that could enter the mix but is further down the minor league ladder then Groshans, giving the clubs #3 prospect first crack at making the big league club.

We all know that Gabriel Moreno should be with the Blue Jays at some point this season but Groshans should not too far behind. So much so, that if the front office does start to line some deals up for Major League talent, the righty-batter could be a name going the other way depending on the trade in question. This was a possibility last season but the club dealt Austin Martin and Simeon Woods-Richardson instead.

Is it risky to entrust third base to a rookie player in a season where the club could be playoff contenders? Absolutely, but in the same breath, if Groshans can put up strong numbers in AAA and the current options aren’t cutting it and the trade deadline is already in the rearview mirror, these types of moves might be what the club needs to get into the playoffs. High risk, high reward.

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I predict that Jordan Groshans is going to have a monster year in AAA and should be knocking on the door come mid-late summer. By having him move to third base, both Groshans and Blue Jays could benefit by utilizing their prospect in a position that needs some improvement and also brings his plus bat to the big leagues.