6 Blue Jays whose future with the club hangs in the balance during spring training

Which players on the Jays’ roster could have their roles on the team on the line based on their spring performances?

Seattle Mariners v Toronto Blue Jays
Seattle Mariners v Toronto Blue Jays / Cole Burston/GettyImages
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Santiago Espinal

Despite chalking up an All-Star season in 2022, Santiago Espinal seemed to be given the short end of the stick in recent times. When it appeared that Espinal had solidified his starting role at second base, it suddenly no longer became the case when he had to deal with the three-player carousel along with Whit Merrifield and Cavan Biggio for the position in 2023. In the end, both Merrifield and Biggio rose to the occasion during various parts of the season, garnering most of the playing time while Espinal became the third wheel. 

As a result, not only did the reduction in game action affect his offensive stats, the usually sure-handed Espinal had a regression in his defensive numbers as well. In total, Espinal hit only .248 with a .644 OPS, 80 OPS+, with 30 runs scored, 2 home runs and 25 RBI in 93 games. In the field, he committed an uncharacteristic 9 errors in total for a .960 fielding percentage, along with an overall negative DRS of -2 on the season for the first time in his career. 

This offseason, Merrifield has left via free agency and joined the Philadelphia Phillies. However, the Jays have added another utilityman in Isiah Kiner-Falefa, along with indicating that rising star Davis Schneider could also be in the mix in the infield. Therefore, it appears that Espinal will be competing for playing time once again in 2024, so he desperately needs a strong spring to solidify any sort of starting role or even perhaps a bench role this season. In six pre-season games so far, he hasn’t been helping his own cause by hitting only .167 with a .579 OPS and only a single RBI, but he has at least demonstrated some patience at the plate with 5 walks in 17 total plate appearances. Nevertheless, the Jays will need a lot more out of Espinal if he wants to remain a key part of their everyday roster.