After establishing himself as a solid starting second baseman with his All-Star season in 2022 with the Jays, Santiago Espinal found himself in a precarious position in 2023 when he had to fight for starting time all over again. With both Whit Merrifeld and Cavan Biggio added into the mix in a carousel situation at second base for much of the 2023 season, Espinal quickly found himself becoming the third fiddle as the season progressed.
Merrifield put together a strong season offensively, which ultimately gave him the starting role by mid-season. Because Biggio bats left-handed, he still got his fair share of playing time when the Jays faced right-handed pitching. But in the case for Espinal, he struggled for the most part at the plate last season, and subsequently it affected his usual steady play in the field as well. For 2023, Espinal hit a career-low .248 with a .644 OPS, along with just 30 runs scored, 14 doubles, 2 home runs, and 25 RBI in 93 games. Even his defence suffered as he posted his first negative DRS season with a -2 DRS, along with committing a career-high 9 errors in just 229 chances.
With the Jays recently signing Isiah Kiner-Falefa, it had recreated the three-player revolving carousel once again, with Kiner-Falefa taking the spot Merrifield held in 2022. Even though Espinal will likely still start the season with the Jays, his days with the team could be numbered as all of the potential positive attributes that he provides the team can be covered by both Biggio and Kiner-Falefa. If the Jays needed power, offence or a lefty bat, Biggio would fit the bill. If the Jays needed defence, speed, and/or a righty bat, Kiner-Falefa should get the call. More importantly, both of them have added flexibility in that they can play multiple positions both in the infield and outfield, whereas Espinal can only cover the infield. As a result, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Espinal doesn’t want to go through it all over again like last season and want a fresh start with a new team that could give him the playing time that he deserves.