UTL Isiah Kiner-Falefa
Another new Blue Jay, the utility-man known as IKF enters the fold as glove first depth piece that puts the bat on the ball. Kiner-Falefa has been a gifted fielder his entire career. Actually starting off as a catcher, he transitioned to the infield as a member of the Texas Rangers, even winning a Gold Glove at third base after the 2020 season. He was then acquired by the Yankees to take over short-stop, but he lost his job last season in favour of Anthony Volpe and was relegated to a depth role, one that saw him spend more time in the outfield.
Having an abundance of experience under his belt, Kiner-Falefa enters 2024 with mild expectations. After posting just an 82 wRC+ last season, Steamer projects an 89 wRC+ for IKF in 2024. While he spent most of his time in the outfield last year, the Blue Jays have more playing time available in their infield, where IKF is more comfortable. It’s feasible that he’ll be prioritized in at bats against left-handed pitching and see a lot of time at third, splitting time there with Cavan Biggio.
Kiner-Falefa is far from the impact deal Jays fans could’ve expected for this season, but he’s a more than capable depth player who could see time everywhere in the field. With a whiff rate in the 81st percentile last year and an OAA in the 77th percentile, Kiner-Falefa is about as sure of a bet to provide a solid baseline of protection for the regulars in this lineup.
SS/2B Leo Jimenez
One of the younger members of the 40-man roster, Jimenez is currently the 6th highest rated prospect in the organization. A sure-handed middle infielder with excellent plate discipline, Jimenez made great strides last year in the minors.
After torching Double-A to an .808 OPS, Jimenez was brought up to Buffalo to finish the season. He slashed .191/.338/.238 as a Bison, a line that leaves a lot of room for improvement but still illustrates his solid approach at the plate. Jimenez is set to be a part of a solid Buffalo infield come April, and could have a role with the big league club in the near future.
For now, the organization is focused Jimenez’s development. Expect to see him in spring training, and hopefully hear good things from the Bisons on his development as the season goes on.