Two Blue Jays prospects that could replace Kevin Kiermaier if his struggles continue

What are potential internal solutions for the Blue Jays if Kiermaier’s hitting funk were to continue?
Colorado Rockies v Toronto Blue Jays
Colorado Rockies v Toronto Blue Jays / Vaughn Ridley/GettyImages
facebooktwitterreddit

2024 has not been kind to Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Kevin Kiermaier so far. After re-signing with Toronto on a one-year deal following an impressive 2023 showing, it has been quite the major struggle for the 34-year-old veteran in his encore performance with the club.

To date, Kiermaier has registered only 11 hits in total over 21 games, along with 5 runs scored, 4 RBI and pair of stolen bases. More worrisome is the fact that he has struck out 18 times in just 55 at-bats for almost a 30% strikeout rate and is currently hitting a career-low .200 with a .509 OPS. .

One can tell that things aren’t really going his way when even after he gets a hit, this happens.

It is still early, so Kiermaier will have all the opportunity to turn things around. But the way that he has been producing underwhelming at-bats at the plate makes one worry that some regression is actually taking place.

In the event Kiermaier continues his offensive struggles, what should the Jays do to resolve the problem? The easiest solution would be to give Kiermaier some time off and substitute in Davis Schneider in left as Daulton Varsho moves to center. But perhaps a alternate long-term solution could involve the promotion of a prospect in the Jays’ system.

If that indeed comes to fruition, then one of those up and coming players the Jays should consider is Jays Journal No. 4 prospect Addison Barger. Barger has actually been knocking on the door ever since last year’s impressive spring showing that nearly landed him a spot on the Jays’ 2023 Opening Day roster. This year, he has gotten off to a strong start with Triple-A Buffalo where in 19 games, he is hitting .314 with a 1.021 OPS, 17 runs scored, 10 doubles, 3 home runs, 21 RBI, 14 walks and 15 strikeouts. With the ability to play multiple positions, Barger has made five starts in the outfield so far for the Bisons, registering two outfield assists already while committing no errors in the process.

Another prospect that would fit the bill whose natural position is in the outfield, Jays Journal No. 6 prospect Alan Roden. Starting the year in Double-A New Hampshire, Roden has also impressed to date. He has posted a stellar .296 batting average, .840 OPS, along with 9 runs scored, 3 doubles, 2 home runs, 8 RBI, 1 stolen base, 6 walks and 9 strikeouts in 13 games played. Similar to Barger, Roden has been spotless in the field to go along with one outfield assist.

Between the two, Barger is perhaps the more MLB-ready player as of this moment, but Roden possesses the higher ceiling in the long run. So either way, the Jays can’t go wrong with the promotion of either prospect. But unless the Jays plan to give them everyday playing time as a starter, it may be more beneficial for them to see action daily in the minors in preparation for their permanent future role at the big league level.

In the case for Kiermaier, at least his bat has started to heat up a bit following his three-hit performance from this past Wednesday against the New York Yankees. Hopefully, it is the first step in the right direction in changing his fortunes at the plate. If Kiermaier can somehow carry that regained confidence going forward, it would help put away any worries about whether or not he should be playing regularly. But if his offensive struggles continues to amplify, it may force the arrival of one of the Jays’ top prospects to be sooner than expected as a result.