Toronto Blue Jays 2023 Depth Chart: Center field

Feb 28, 2023; Dunedin, Florida, USA; Toronto Blue Jays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier (39) watches a
Feb 28, 2023; Dunedin, Florida, USA; Toronto Blue Jays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier (39) watches a / Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

The Blue Jays' offseason outfield renovations included improving the defensive depth, and now the team boasts three players who could legitimately claim the everyday center field job.

No. 1: Kevin Kiermaier

Coming off hip surgery, 10-year veteran Kevin Kiermaier signed a one-year deal this winter. The team gave him the center field job and told him it's his to lose.

The long-time Blue Jay tormentor is fully healthy and has taken over leadership of the outfield. With three Gold Gloves and a Platinum Glove to his name, he has the credentials to run things as he sees fit. Per Sportsnet's David Singh, Kiermaier aims to lead the best outfield in the league.

The 32-year-old has looked good in Grapefruit League action up to this point, with an impressive .500/.556/.750 slash line. He's counted four RBI plus a pair of doubles and a triple in his 18 plate appearances.

If he can contribute enough offensively to keep himself at the bottom of the order in the everyday lineup, Jays fans will learn to love having his glove patrolling the Rogers Centre outfield.

No. 2: Daulton Varsho

Lined up to be the everyday left fielder, Daulton Varsho could also see some time in center this season. The catcher-turned-outfielder has 98 games in center field in his young career — more than he's played at either of the corner positions.

The 26-year-old has the defensive chops to fill-in in center field. He dominated defensive metrics last season and plays an aggressive, dynamic style that will quickly endear him to Jays fans.

Varsho hasn't quite gotten up to speed yet this spring, slashing .222/.258/.296 with no home runs and eight strikeouts. He does have two stolen bases to his credit, however.

No. 3: George Springer

George Springer, the everyday center fielder in his first two seasons with the Jays, will shift over to right field in 2023 but remains in play to see some time in center as well.

The team hopes to reduce wear and tear on Springer's body by having him play a less physically demanding position on a regular basis. Still, his 426 career games in center field will allow manager John Schneider to shift him back to the middle when the team needs to shuffle outfielders around.

The 33-year-old has been turning on the power in Grapefruit League action, slashing .280/.308/.720 with three home runs, eight RBI and a pair of doubles in 8 games. Whether he plays right or center, the Jays need Springer's talented bat at the top of the lineup.

No. 4: Whit Merrifield

Whit Merrifield keeps popping up as a depth player at multiple positions, and for good reason. He's comfortable all over the diamond and has played 88 games in center field over the last four seasons, including 12 appearances for the Jays last year.

With the added outfield depth this season, it's unlikely that Merrifield sees much action out there, but if the team has injuries to deal with, he's a solid and professional backup option.

Minor League Depth

Nathan Lukes

In a battle for the fourth outfielder and final bench spot, Nathan Lukes has plenty of experience playing center field in the minors, with over 300 games at the position in his career. The 28-year-old has looked good in Spring Training, sporting a .304/.346/.391 slash line through 10 games.

Otto Lopez

Otto Lopez has 44 games in center field over his five minor league seasons, including 16 in Triple-A last year. He also made one appearance in center for the Jays at the end of 2022. The versatile Lopez is currently playing for Canada in the World Baseball Classic as the starting shortstop but could be an emergency call-up this season if he doesn't make the team out of camp.

Wynton Bernard (non-roster invitee)

Wynton Bernard signed a minor league contract that included an invitation to camp. With 466 minor league games in center field, the 32-year-old made his big league debut last season with Colorado and played 10 games in center for the Rockies. Bernard has struggled this spring, slashing .190/.174/.238, so it looks like he'll be heading to Triple-A.

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