It’s safe to say that even with the lockout and lost time during the CBA negotiations, the Blue Jays fanbase has been through an up and down rollercoaster when it comes to roster transactions.
Before the lockout, Marcus Semien, Robbie Ray, and Steven Matz all signed with other teams while Ross Atkins brought in reliever Yimi Garcia and starter Kevin Gausman in corresponding moves. Once the lockout was over, the Jays then made waves by signing pitchers Yusei Kikuchi and Andrew Vasquez and also pulled off a blockbuster trade for A’s third baseman Matt Chapman earlier this week.
These moves drastically improve the Blue Jays World Series odds heading into 2022, with the club boasting one of the top defensive hot corners in all of baseball to go along with a strong rotation and a top tier lineup with George Springer, Bo Bichette, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., and Teoscar Hernandez at the top of the batting order. While the club could add another relief pitcher or two before Opening Day, the biggest question mark that currently remains before April 8th rolls around is who will be playing second base this season.
Last season’s option in Semien is now with the Rangers so it looks like the club will be going into Spring Training with Cavan Biggio and Santiago Espinal vying for time on the right side of the infield.
Defensively, Biggio has more experience compared to Espinal at the big league level, with over 129 games while the Dominican product has only spent time on the left side of the infield since debuting in 2019. Biggio sports a .986 fielding percentage through 1056.2 innings at second, and after the struggle last year at third base, he should hopefully be in a more natural position this year. Espinal does have experience at second base but only in the minor leagues, suiting up in 121 games and 1052.0 innings while boasting a .985 fielding percentage with both the Blue Jays and Boston Red Sox affiliates.
The Blue Jays have drastically improved their roster for the 2022 season but still have some questions in regards to who is going to play second base.
While there could be a competition this spring to see who takes over the role for the season, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the club platoon both players this year while using Biggio as a utility player and playing the lefty/righty matchups depending on the pitcher that day. Biggio bats from the left side, a rarity on the current Jays roster, while Espinal is a right-hander, so Charlie Montoyo could play the splits if he so chooses. For his career, Biggio has pretty even splits for both LHP and RHP but does have less than 300 at-bats between the two styles while his counterpart does have better numbers against lefty pitchers, albeit a smaller sample size compared to the former Notre Dame product.
Alternatively, the Blue Jays are also potentially exploring a trade for Cleveland Guardians infielder Jose Ramirez, with the fanbase being enamoured with the Dominican slugger for almost over a year after Ross Atkins and co. tried to acquire him at the 2021 trade deadline.
Adding Ramirez to the squad would be an absolute treat, as the switch-hitting slugger has been one of the hottest players since becoming a full-time player back in 2016. For his career, he owns a .278/.354/.501 slash line through 980 games with 163 home runs, 540 RBI, and a .855 OPS to go along with a 34.3 bWAR. While he has spent the majority of his career at third base, Ramirez has some experience at second base, which is where the club would be using him if the two sides can agree on a deal. Through 1106.0 innings, he owns a .978 fielding percentage with a 4 bDRS on the right side of the second base bag.
Lastly, there is Ketel Marte with the Arizona Diamondbacks, but the Blue Jays have not been tied to the infielder as of yet. While the Diamondbacks have not started selling off the team and looking to rebuild as of yet, if they choose to firesale, Marte would be their biggest asset to sell. This would require some significant prospect capital as well considering his career .287/.346/.456 line and .802 OPS but similar to a Ramirez addition, Marte would also create an even more deadly Blue Jays lineup alongside the core group.
As of right now, it looks like the club is heading into Opening Day with Biggio/Espinal as potential options but there are some feelers out there for Ramirez, so things could drastically change before the first series of the season against Texas.