What will the Blue Jays third base picture look like in 2024?

Baltimore Orioles v Toronto Blue Jays
Baltimore Orioles v Toronto Blue Jays / Cole Burston/GettyImages

The Toronto Blue Jays have so much to play for over the last five-plus weeks of the regular season. While a division title looks out of reach, they are in the thick of the AL Wild Card race, and every game truly matters.

Despite all the possibilities on the field, many fans wonder what the team will look like in 2024. With pending free agents like Whit Merrifield (mutual option), Kevin Kiermaier, Jordan Hicks, Hyun Jin Ryu, and Brandon Belt on the roster, the makeup of next year’s squad could be dramatically different.

Another vital contributor who could be on another team is third baseman Matt Chapman, who is projected to be one of the most sought-after players on the open market by November. There’s no doubt Chapman is a valuable commodity and that the Jays would love to keep him, but with other pending deals to be made, it may not be in the cards.

Third Base options – internal candidates

Addison Barger has shot up the team prospect rankings over the last year and was even a long shot to make the Opening Day roster this season. His natural position is the hot corner, and he’s battled back from injuries to look like a player who could be a future difference-maker. He’s hit .309 with a pair of homers and a .927 OPS over August and could be battling for a job come next February.

Orelvis Martinez has earned his way back to being an MLB Top 100 prospect, and his improved plate discipline is a big reason why. After hitting just .089 through April, the shortstop has steadily brought that number up to .242 while hitting 23 home runs and cutting down on his strikeouts. He’s also logged some time at third base and seems closer to being big-league-ready.

Third Base options – external candidates

The upcoming free agent class is one of the most underwhelming in recent memory. Still, some quality candidates could also emerge in the trade market. Besides Chapman, the best third baseman available is Jeimer Candelario, who was recently traded to the Chicago Cubs. He’s got an OPS of .844 and has slugged 18 homers, and only José Ramírez and Isaac Paredes have a higher fWAR at the position.

As recently witnessed, the Baltimore Orioles have an impressive collection of young talent at the Major League level and another wave that isn’t far away. Despite winning the Gold Glove award last season, Ramón Urías could find himself getting the squeeze for playing time. Jonathan India could be in a similar situation in Cincinnati, and Joey Wendle could be a potential high-value, low-risk signing if the flashier names go quickly.