The reported return of Kevin Kiermaier and signing of Isiah Kiner-Falefa prompts an update to the projected Blue Jays lineup. There is still much work to do to fill out the starting nine, as this team is without a de facto third baseman or a designated hitter. A lack of significant upgrades to the lineup would prove problematic in a tough AL East.
It’s yet to be determined if this front office’s work is far from over. Previously determined to make a big splash, the team might be pivoting to bigger things after augmenting their defense and bottom of the order with the signing of Kiermaier, in addition to improving their depth with utility-man Kiner-Falefa. While further acquisitions could be made, the state of the Blue Jays lineup with the Gold Glove center fielder and infielder could look something like this:
1. RF George Springer
2. SS Bo Bichette
3. 1B Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
4. C Danny Jansen/Alejandro Kirk
5. 2B Cavan Biggio
6. DH Davis Schneider
7. LF Daulton Varsho
8. 3B Isiah Kiner-Falefa
9. CF Kevin Kiermaier
Should Schneider continue to fit his offensive profile of high walk and power numbers, that’s a pretty dangerous top six of the lineup. However, a steep decline follows, as the bottom three will consist of three relatively weak hitters (although Kiermaier hit well in 2023).
Kiermaier’s presence at the bottom gives the Blue Jays a formidable nine hitter, someone who will be semi-frequently on base and provide RBI opportunities for the top of the order. A .322 OBP last season paired with 14 stolen bases made Kiermaier a run scoring threat whenever he was on base in 2023.
Kiner-Falefa slot in at third base for now. A tremendous athlete, he played six different positions last year, including second base, third base, shortstop, and all outfield spots. His versatility and bat-to-ball ability translate best to a depth player role off the bench, but as it stands the former Yankee is the most experienced third baseman on the roster. IKF won a Gold Glove at that position back in 2020, but has never been an above average hitter by OPS+, with a career mark of 81.
Improvements to third base are necessary, as currently that position projects nothing but passable defense. Kiermaier’s return brings defense, a completed outfield, and bottom of the order stability, but further additions are necessary for the Blue Jays to maintain competitiveness.