Toronto Blue Jays News

Blue Jays: A potential squeeze coming for the bench

Sep 4, 2022; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA;  Toronto Blue Jays second baseman Cavan Biggio (left) is
Sep 4, 2022; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Toronto Blue Jays second baseman Cavan Biggio (left) is / Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
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As the Blue Jays continue their search for ways to improve their roster ahead of the 2023 season, I can't help but think about some of the more fringe players on the team.

The reason I say that is because it seems pretty clear that the Jays are intent on adding at least one outfielder to the mix, and probably even two. That makes sense after they traded Teoscar Hernandez to the Seattle Mariners, and designated both Raimel Tapia and Bradley Zimmer for assignment. Jackie Bradley Jr. is also a free agent, so right now the outfield ranks are running pretty thin.

There have been various rumours connecting the Blue Jays to players like Brandon Nimmo, Cody Bellinger, and more, and each time my brain goes to the trickle down effect that any move would have on the rest of the roster. The biggest variable that could impact things would be if the front office decides to trade a catcher, and which one, which would influence how much time the Jays need to save at DH for guys like Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and George Springer.

Throw all of the moving parts into a blender and it leaves some question marks about how the 26-man roster could be filled out. For example, here's how I see the Blue Jays' lineup if the season were to start today, keeping in mind that I'm all but certain that they'll add a few more players to the equation before opening day.

1- George Springer (CF)
2- Bo Bichette (SS)
3- Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (1B)
4- Alejandro Kirk (DH)
5- Matt Chapman (3B)
6- Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (LF)
7- Danny Jansen (C)
8- Whit Merrifield (RF)
9- Santiago Espinal (2B)

Bench- Gabriel Moreno, Cavan Biggio, Otto Lopez, Nathan Lukes

Looking at that, there are at least a few players who likely won't open the season with the team, especially the last two names. There's the strong possibility that a catcher gets traded as well. I've also got Whit Merrifield lined up in right field in this scenario, and at this stage I would bet on him being the starting second baseman in 2023 unless something unexpected happens to the roster.

Let's say the Blue Jays sign two bats and trade a catcher. For the sake of a hypothetical visual, here's an example:

1- George Springer (RF)
2- Bo Bichette (SS)
3- Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (1B)
4- Michael Brantley (DH)
5- Alejandro Kirk (C)
6- Matt Chapman (3B)
7- Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (LF)
8- Cody Bellinger (CF)
9- Whit Merrifield (2B)

Bench- Espinal, Moreno, Biggio, Lopez

Looking at that scenario, it feels like the Blue Jays could even add a third piece to the puzzle, whether that comes through free agency or trade, and it would probably be another outfielder. In this case you could use Brantley in a corner, Merrifield could make some starts out there, and Biggio is even capable if the need arises, but it still wouldn't surprise me if they added another capable outfielder for the last spot on the bench.

All that said, for some reason this whole thing makes me keep thinking about Biggio's position on the team, and whether he'll still be a Blue Jay by the time Opening Day rolls around. As I said above, a lot is going to depend on whether they actually trade a catcher, because if not then I imagine all three players are on the MLB roster, and Moreno might even get some reps in the infield. It also depends on whether Ross Atkins and the front office bring in one, two, or even three more hitters, and that will all impact the end of the bench.

For Biggio, he's up against the fact that he's no higher than second or third on the depth chart at any of the various positions he's played, and there is some talent coming quick from the minor leagues, like 2022 breakout infielder Addison Barger. It's also possible that Lopez plays himself into the equation with his versatile skill set.

There are still a lot of ways this could all play out, and a lot of options for Atkins and his staff. It leaves me not only wondering who could join the team, but also who might be pushed out.

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