Blue Jays: Santiago Espinal’s Rise from MiLB Depth to Everyday Player

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Blue Jays

Aug 1, 2021; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays second baseman Santiago Espinal (5) celebrates after hitting a home run against the Kansas City Royals during the fourth inning at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports

Throughout the last few years, Santiago Espinal has peaked a lot of fan’s interest as he has gone from a potential depth utility option, to the starting second baseman on a team that is favoured to win the AL East Pennant.

But how did the now 27-year old from Santiago, Dominican Republic rise through the organization?  Espinal’s start to the organization begins 18 months before he was even acquired by the Toronto Blue Jays in a trade with the Boston Red Sox.

The Signing

Following two consecutive appearances in the postseason, it appeared the Blue Jays were going in a different direction as it was apparent they were not bringing back Edwin Encarnacion.  As the organization was changing, on December 6, 2016, they signed 33-year old veteran Steve Pearce to a two-year deal worth $12.5 Million, which seemed to be a stopover player between contending years.  During year one of the deal, Pearce fought through injuries and was able to play in just 92 games, but showed a solid bat as he collected 31 extra-base hits in 313 at-bats that led to a slash line of .252/.319/.438.

The Trade

In the last year of his deal, Pearce continued to show a productive bat later in his career, and as the Blue Jays were not challenging for a postseason appearance, he was traded to the Boston Red Sox for the then 23-year old Espinal.  The deal would prove worthy for the Red Sox, as the club would win the 2018 World Series and Pearce would take home the series MVP award after going 4-12 with three home runs and eight RBI, while collecting four walks to no strikeouts and posting an OPS of 1.667. While I’m sure Red Sox fans cringe seeing how Espinal is playing these days, they surely can’t begrudge the trade in light of how things worked out with Pearce.

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