What do the Blue Jays have in Santiago Espinal? Answering this question will be key in them determining whether or not to consider him as a trade candidate.
Is Espinal the player fans watched in 2022, who had a breakout season? The version who set single-season highs in hits, home runs, RBI and walks, and was selected to his first All-Star Game.
Or is it the version who came crashing back down to earth this past season, as his bat went cold? A player who was moved all around the infield, and unable to find any consistency or stability at one position, as his defensive form also slipped.
In one respect, it's not as if Espinal suddenly became a terrible player. At the same time however, you have to wonder if 2022 was a one-off, career peak, a flash in the pan, etc, etc.
Certainly, it is concerning that the soon to be 29-year-old had the worst batting average of his four years in the Majors. Considering he's not perceived as a power hitter, he needs to counter this by making regular contact with the bat.
In this respect, it is only fair to note how Espinal finished his 2023 regular season. As per Eric Treuden, in his last 51 at-bats, he complied a .375 batting average with a 152 wRC+, six doubles, six runs driven in and four runs scored.
One final aspect to consider in deciding whether to trade the Dominican Republic native, is his contract. He is arbitration-eligible for another three years, before becoming an unrestricted free agent in 2027.