It just seemed like months ago, last September to be exact, when Toronto Blue Jays prospect Otto Lopez was called up to the majors where he had a strong showing in the season-finale doubleheader against the Baltimore Orioles. Lopez gave Jays’ fans everywhere a taste of what he could bring to the ballclub with his good contact hitting and speed, pounding out five hits and driving in three runs in nine plate appearances.
As Lopez looked to build upon that brief glimpse of success in 2023, he started off the year strong with a solid Spring Training with the Jays, as he hit .348 with a .922 OPS, with six runs scored, one double, one triple, four RBI, four walks and just two strikeouts in 23 at-bats. Not only that, he went on to represent Canada at the World Baseball Classic and provided an impressive showing wearing the maple leaf, going 5-for-17 with four runs scored, one triple, one home run and six RBI. He appeared to be on track in potentially making the Opening Day big league roster, until he was edged out by Nathan Lukes at the end.
Since then, Lopez has been playing for the Jays’ Triple-A affiliate Buffalo Bisons. He struggled coming out of the gate in the first couple of months of the season, but has picked it up lately in June and July by posting a .275 average with 17 runs scored, four doubles, three triples, two home runs, 20 RBI and eight stolen bases in 37 games played.
However, with the likes of Lukes and Ernie Clement getting MLB time earlier this year with the big league club, along with Addison Barger being ahead of him on the depth chart, added to the recent promotion of power-hitting Orelvis Martinez from the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, Lopez appears to be caught in a numbers game, with his eventual progression to the majors being blocked by a bunch of solid players and promising prospects competing against him for the same position.
As a result, with his versatility of being able to play multiple infield and outfield positions, along with his speed and hitting ability, Lopez could potentially be a valuable trade chip that the Jays could use for the upcoming trade deadline, even if he did just land himself on the 7-day injured list. As long as his ailment is of no concern, a deal could still come together. Obviously, Lopez isn’t going to single-handedly land the Jays superstars such as Shohei Ohtani, Cody Bellinger, Josh Hader, and others, but he could be an important add-on piece to any trade package to help bring in a strong trade piece to the team.
In doing so, Lopez could finally get his chance to get some playing time in the majors, along with the Jays getting the necessary piece needed to help bolster their roster for the playoff run. As one of the rare Canadians in the Jays’ organization, it will be tough to part with such a promising prospect, but it just makes too much sense for the “win-win” situation for both parties.