Toronto Blue Jays 2023 Depth Chart: Right field
The Toronto Blue Jays have a new right fielder for the 2023 season, and hopefully health problems don't require them to dig too far down their depth chart this year.
No. 1: George Springer
Patrolling right field isn't new to George Springer. He's played more games in right (564), including 26 last season, than he has in center (426) over the course of his career.
By moving the 33-year-old to a corner outfield spot, the Jays hope to reduce wear and tear and help him avoid injuries that have plagued his time in Toronto. After only getting into 78 games in 2021, he played most of last year while battling a bone spur in his elbow.
It wasn't ideal, as a fully healthy George Springer can be a difference-maker at the top of the lineup.
Despite his physical struggles in 2022, Springer managed to hit 25 home runs, score 89 runs, and drive in 76. He also ran more than in previous years, stealing 14 bags — his highest total since 16 swipes in 2015.
Heading into his 10th season, the projection systems predict another stellar offensive campaign for Springer. Hopefully, playing right field will help him stay healthy and in the lineup.
No. 2: Cavan Biggio
Heading into 2023 in a utility role, Cavan Biggio projects to see time in right field. He's already played in 44 games there in his four seasons in Toronto and has made only a single error.
Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet reports that Biggio is "a leading candidate to play right" when Springer gets a day off.
Per Nicholson-Smith, the team is happy with the work Biggo has put in to improve his fielding in the outfield corner. Manager John Schneider says Biggio has "worked really hard," and they "definitely feel comfortable with him out there."
Last season, the 27-year-old hit .202 with a .668 OPS, six home runs, 43 runs, and 24 RBI in 97 games. Hopefully, Biggio benefits from the shift restrictions and can pick up the production this season to continue getting consistent time in the field.
No. 3: Whit Merrifield
Whit Merrifield makes his way onto a third outfield depth chart. He's played 175 games in right field over his career, including seven appearances after joining the Jays last season. The seven-year veteran has committed only three errors in his 1,250 innings in right, good for a .990 fielding percentage, and none in the last three seasons.
Without a guaranteed starting job at second base, there's a chance Merrifield ends up playing all over the field in 2023, especially if his bat stays hot enough to warrant a consistent spot in the lineup.
Merrifield is projected to hit near the bottom of the lineup and should hold his own if he gets regular playing time. His ZiPS Depth Chart projection thinks he'll get around 500 PA, hit double-digit home runs with 10, and contribute 65 runs, 56 RBI and 16 stolen bases.
Minor league depth
Although the competition is fierce, Nathan Lukes survived the first round of cuts from the big league camp and remains in the mix for the 26th spot on the roster.
The 28-year-old still has a good chance at leaving Dunedin with the big club, especially if the team decides they want a pure outfielder for their final bench role. Lukes continues to hold his own this spring, slashing .320/.379/.400 through 11 games, so seeing him join the Blue Jays out of camp wouldn't be a huge surprise.
Addison Barger, the Blue Jays' number six prospect, continues to impress in Spring Training action. He's hitting .310 with an .858 OPS over 32 plate appearances. He's hit one home run, a couple of doubles and driven in five in 12 games.
The best news, though, is that the talented 23-year-old infielder has finally started seeing game action in the outfield. The Blue Jays said he would get reps in the outfield this spring, as they would like to get his bat to the majors soon.
Wynton Bernard (non-roster invitee)
Wynton Bernard is still in camp, but it's hard to imagine the Blue Jays adding him to the 40-man roster after Spring Training. He's struggled at the plate with a .227 average and .558 OPS in 25 plate appearances so far.
The 32-year-old will end up as an outfield depth piece in Triple-A. He's played 145 games in right field over his 10-year minor league career (plus one appearance in the majors), so he could be an emergency call-up this season if the team gets desperate for an outfielder.