Blue Jays add utilityman Otto Lopez to taxi squad in case Espinal needs to go on IL

Toronto Blue Jays Workout
Toronto Blue Jays Workout / Elsa/GettyImages

The Toronto Blue Jays are adding utilityman Otto Lopez to their taxi squad ahead of the three-game series against the Chicago White Sox. To many, the taxi squad was here and gone once the COVID-shortened 2020 season was up, but this is not the case.

Currently, players may be added to their club's taxi squad only if a player on the 26-man roster is actively injured and may require a trip to the 15-day injured list. In this case, that would be 2022 All-Star Santiago Espinal, who has a right wrist contusion after taking a 98mph fastball from Gerrit Cole off of his wrist.

In Lopez, the Blue Jays are going to be keeping him nearby in case Espinal goes down. The 24-year-old has seen just a tiny bit of playing time in the majors in both 2021 and 2022 and has been down in the minors with the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons to start the current season.

He has been a light-hitting speedster throughout the course of his career, but he's been able to utilize his toolset in an efficient way. Lopez is nowhere near a double-digit home run player who is going to constantly be swinging for the fences. Instead, he draws walks, he drops bunts, he steals bases and he just finds a way to get himself on base.

In 17 games for the Bisons this year, Lopez has not been off to a great start with the bat. In 59 at-bats, he has 10 hits including a double and two triples. His batting average has dipped down to .170 but he is still the closest big-league-ready infielder the Jays have on-hand.

For Espinal, the hope is obviously that he won't have to face an extended absence, but perhaps a brief trip to the 15-day injured list would be good for him to hit the reset button. After having two consecutive seasons in a row in which he boosted his value, Espinal carries a .114 average through 13 games this year, registering just four hits in 35 at-bats. His OPS+ currently sits at 9, which means he is 91 percent below league-average at the plate.