Toronto Blue Jays 2023 Depth Chart: Second Base

Toronto Blue Jays v Boston Red Sox
Toronto Blue Jays v Boston Red Sox / Maddie Meyer/GettyImages
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While the Blue Jays second base depth is quite deep, the team has not been able to assign the position to a single everyday player since Marcus Semien departed to the Texas Rangers. Though other players could play second base if need be, here’s how the organizational depth at the position looks heading into the 2023 season.

No. 1: Whit Merrifield

Merrifield has played in seven major league seasons after debuting as a 27-year-old in 2016. He led the majors in base hits in back-to-back seasons in 2018 and 2019, thereby establishing himself as one of the better contact hitters with great speed. The former South Carolina Gamecock had the worst season of his career in 2022, though once acquired by the Jays at the trade deadline, he looked much more like himself again. Merrifield managed a .281 AVG and .323 OBP in 44 regular season games with the Jays, with starts at several positions. 

Expected to hit eighth in the order, the ultimate utilityman won’t be asked to do as much as during his prime years in Kansas City, but he should still have lots of opportunities to succeed in a strong lineup. Defensively, he owns a career .985 fielding percentage across six different positions. As the 2023 season approaches, it appears as though Merrifield will begin the season as the primary second baseman, though he could spend time elsewhere on the diamond, too.

No. 2: Santiago Espinal

In his first full season in the major leagues, Espinal was an All-Star second baseman. Owning a .990 fielding percentage to go with his .267 AVG and .322 OBP, he had a very strong season, particularly with the leather. His OAA (Outs Above Average) ranked in the 96th percentile, meaning his level of play saves a lot of runs. He also plays several positions in the infield giving manager John Schneider plenty of options to optimize the lineup. With both Merrifield and Espinal having reliable positional versatility, each should get a great deal of opportunity spelling other positions, giving guys days off, or filling in for injured players.

No. 3: Cavan Biggio

The son of Hall of Fame 2B Craig Biggio, Cavan was selected by the Blue Jays in the fifth round of the 2016 MLB draft. In his rookie season in 2019, Biggio hit .234 with 16 home runs and 48 RBI in 100 games. But he has struggled since his rookie campaign, and saw his role diminished due to inconsistency as he spent time at 1B, 2B, 3B and both corner outfield positions. The Houston native has never hit for a high average at the majors - he owns a career .228 AVG - but his ability to get on base is what keeps him on the roster. Biggio owns a .346 career OBP, so while playing time may be sparse with Merrifield and Espinal ahead of him at 2B, injuries happen over the course of 162 games, and Biggio’s experience and pedigree make him a valuable replacement everyday player if need be.

No. 4: Otto Lopez

Lopez has only had 10 major league at-bats, though he has begun his career with a .600 AVG. The 24-year-old Dominican is another versatile player who has played 2B, SS and all three outfield positions relatively well in the minor leagues while contributing on offense. In AAA with the Buffalo Bisons in 2022, Lopez owned a slash line of .297/.378/.415/.793, while adding in 14 stolen bases. He looks to display his ability to get on base, his speed, and above average defense at the major league level in 2023. Expect Lopez to get a look as a bench bat and a possible replacement in the lineup should injuries plague the middle infield.

No. 5: Addison Barger

Drafted in the sixth round of the 2018 MLB Draft, Barger was added to the 40-man roster earlier in the offseason to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft. Playing in three different levels of minor league ball in 2022 (High-A, Double-A, Triple-A), he hit 26 home runs while slashing .308/.378/.555/.933 in a total of 124 games. Though he only played eight games in Triple-A with the Bisons, the teams' No. 6 prospect hit three home runs and owned a .355 AVG. Barger has also shown his versatility as he has spent time as 2B, 3B, and SS, allowing him to fill in where needed in the infield. The 23-year-old is not a finished product, but he has the potential to become a regular in the near future. He would also win the “most jacked” competition on the team if they had one. Sheesh!

Minor league depth not on the 40-man

Rafael Lantigua

Lantigua signed with the Jays in 2016, and made his way up to AAA in 2022. Splitting time between Double-A and Triple-A, he managed a .274/.346/.393/.738 line over 128 games. Lantigua is another versatile infielder who has played 2B, 3B and SS who excels in small-ball situations. Never topping 11 home runs in a season as a pro, the young infielder has solid speed with 69 stolen bases in 422 pro games and a .975 fielding percentage at 2B. Lantigua is still a ways away from a major league debut, but has the potential for a situational role in the future.

LJ Talley

Talley played in both Double-A and Triple-A in 2022, where he combined for 12 home runs, 12 stolen bases and a slash line of .264/.338/.419/.757. After struggling in New Hampshire with a meager .188 AVG, the former Georgia Bulldog found his stride in Buffalo, where he batted .285 with a .350 OBP. Playing 1B, 2B and 3B, Talley can manage any base, though his fielding percentage at 3B is significantly lower than it is at 1B and 2B. The 25-year-old still has time to break into the majors and contribute with his contact hitting skills. Talley will begin the 2023 in Buffalo, though it wouldn’t surprise me if Talley gets a chance to fill in for an injured infielder at some point in the near future. 

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