Who Will Play Third Base for the Toronto Blue Jays?

TORONTO, ON - AUGUST 23: Santiago Espinal #5 of the Toronto Blue Jays scores a run during a MLB game against the Chicago White Sox at Rogers Centre on August 23, 2021 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
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The Toronto Blue Jays saw seven different players start at third base in 2021. After a stellar 91-71 season and the loss of Marcus Semien to free agency, many wonder if the Blue Jays will sign another infielder. Of the six infield positions, the area of improvement could be at third base. With the ongoing MLB lockout, it is uncertain how the Blue Jays will address this position. Here are some options they have to fill both internally and externally.

Toronto Blue Jays Third Base Options

Option # 1: Solve Internally 

Santiago Espinal had 81 starts playing at third for the Blue Jays. His slash line in 91 games was .311/.376/.405, with two home runs and 17 RBIs. Defensively, Espinal led the American League in Range Factor/9 Innings at 3.13, and Total Zone Runs at 16. Although Espinal has played in two seasons with the Blue Jays, the question is whether or not he is an everyday player. The upcoming season will allow Espinal to prove his detractors wrong. If the Blue Jays do not sign anyone else, the 27-year-old could very well be a utility option. 

The acquisition of Marcus Semien led to changes in the Blue Jays infield, predominantly with Cavan Biggio. Biggio was Blue Jays’ second baseman for two seasons but only played seven games in 2021. He had 52 of his 81 games starting at third in that same season. With Bo Bichette playing shortstop and Semien spending most of the 2021 season at second, Biggio once again played various positions for the Blue Jays, including the outfield for a handful of games. Despite some experience at third, coaches might look at Biggio in Spring Training to see if he handles playing the position.

Vladimir Guerro Jr. came up in the Blue Jays organization as a third baseman. When he first came to the majors in 2019, he became the team’s everyday third baseman as he played 96 of 123 games there. Since then, Vlad has only started once at third. It will likely be best to keep the AL MVP finalist over at first, depending on if Toronto decides to look at the free agent market.

Option #2: Free Agency 

The free agent market at third base is very slim. According to Spotrac, eight free agents currently play at that position. Among those names would be 36-year-old Matt Carpenter and former Blue Jay Brandon Drury. Eduardo Escobar could be one option the Blue Jays could look at too.

If the Toronto Blue Jays were to acquire another infielder, it could be someone of high caliber. A number of the top free agents still could sign with the Toronto Blue Jays. These players could be either in the middle of the infield or 1st Base. A scenario in which a player like Cavan Biggio would move over to third base. 

Option #3: Promote from Buffalo 

The 2021 Buffalo Bisons had an outstanding season winning the Northeast Division with a 79-47 record. At 3rd base, two players played there for most of the 2021 season. Christian Colon has spent time in the majors with the Kansas City Royals, and Cincinnati Reds has become a free agent as of November 2021. The other player would be Nash Knight. In 71 games for the Bisons, Knight had a .184/.312/.325 with seven home runs and 26 RBIs. 

An outside candidate for consideration would be Kevin Smith. With Triple-A Buffalo, he hit .285/.370/.561 in 410 plate appearances. This earned Smith a chance to play with the Blue Jays in August and September 2021. His hitting performance was sub-par. While Smith is a shortstop, he played a handful of games at 3rd Base for Toronto and Buffalo. Sam Dykstra of MiLB.com named Smith the Blue Jay’s Organizational All-Star at 3rd base in 2021.  

Final Thoughts 

The Toronto Blue Jays are looking to improve their roster to clinch a postseason spot in 2022. With the loss of a high-caliber infielder like Marcus Semien, fans will hope to see someone new in the infield. A lot can go either way with third base options, as Toronto will have to start to decide what they want to do once the lockout is over.

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