The Jays’ Remaining Needs, Part III: The Everyday Players

There are some who believe that the Jays have made a mistake similar to those made by the Boston Red Sox in the not-too-distant past (ESPN Boston’s Jeremy Lundblad).  Boston, you may recall, acquired several players (like Crawford and Gonzalez) that they believed would put them ‘over the hump’ in the highly competitive AL East.  Those moves backfired, prompting the Red Sox to clear payroll space in a much-publicized trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers in August.

It’s not hard to understand their position since Johnsons’ and Reyes’ injury problems are a factor, Buehrle pitches poorly against the AL East, Bonifacio is a utility player, and John Buck just endured the worst season of his career.  Melky Cabrera is fresh off a 50-game suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs (peds).  The financial commitment made by the Blue Jays in these moves is considerable.  They’ve added somewhere around $27MM to their payroll commitments, when compared to their year-end figure for 2012.

Also, if we look at the line-up as it stands, they’re not likely finished yet.  Here is each position and the players that will fill them:

Pos Player(s)
C Arencibia, D’Arnaud, Buck
1B Encarnacion, Lind, Cooper
2B Izturis, Bonifacio
3B Lawrie
SS Reyes
UT Izturis, Bonifacio, McCoy
Pos Player(s)
LF Cabrera
CF Rasmus
RF Bautista
UT OF Davis, Bonifacio, McCoy

The Jays are covered at every position.  The one possible question mark is at 2B.  Several days ago, I mused about re-signing Kelly Johnson while considering what the Jays’ options are on the right side of the diamond.  This was prompted by the reality that neither Bonifacio nor Izturis have been full-time 2B, and using one of them full-time compromises bench strength.

Bonifacio is better defensively in the OF but Rajai Davis is less versatile (he’s only an OF).  It’s likely that, if the Jays don’t pursue a 2B, then Izturis will be the full-time 2B.  That leaves Bonifacio as the UT IF and Rajai as the 4th OF.  I suspect very strongly that Bonifacio’s primary role will revolve around his speed: he will be the Jays primary pinch runner, and will play a utility role in both the IF and OF.  Holdover UT Mike McCoy is very versatile, but is weak with the bat.

When it boils down to it, I’d like to see the Jays pick up an everyday 2B, but it’s not a crucial need.  Certainly the players mentioned above would be suitable.

Wes Kepstro

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