2021 Shortstop Option
Friday, November 06 2020 @ 11:40 PM EST
Contributed by: John Northey
Part 4 - a position the Jays don't need to upgrade at, but just might anyways and shift Bichette to 3B or 2B depending on an assortment of factors we can't know.
Here in the majors...
- Bo Bichette - if he can stay healthy he might be that 5+ win player we all dream of. 5.9 UZR/150 this year suggests he is a solid fielder after a poor -5.2 last year for a net +0.3. His offense was wRC+ of 125 this year, 136 lifetime (just 340 PA). Still, he looks for real, entering his age 23 season.
- Santiago Espinal - appears to be a really good backup 7.3 UZR/150 at SS, 0.0 in his 7 innings at 3B, and most of us assume he can handle 2B (121 games, 1052 innings vs his 1888 innings at SS) as well. Just a 76 wRC+ and his minors doesn't suggest a lot more (285/345/390) but he does have a bit more potential given he is only entering his age 26 season. I'd have him up as the backup this full year, and leave him in if an injury happens.
- Also used were Panik, Villar, and Drury - none are probably coming back for 2021.
Minors (stats are 2019 obviously)...
- AAA: Urena was #1 (was with the O's but now is a free agent again), Bichette played the 2nd most, Andrew Guillotte played a lot but now into his age 28 season and is probably just a AAAA guy hunting for work, while Espinal also was there a lot
- AA: Kevin Smith was #1 and will probably be in AAA this year - he is entering his age 24 season, hit 209/263/402 in AA, lifetime 263/315/470 in the minors, Pre-2019 was a top 100 prospect (#91 BA). Espinal played at SS a lot in AA, Logan Warmoth was #3 there - Entering age 25 season, probably starts in AA in 2021, 235/324/333 split between A+ and AA, 255/332/346 lifetime (3 years). He could climb to AAA in 2021.
- A+: Kevin Vicuna was #1 entering his age 23 season - 253/318/333 which is pretty much his career line. His glove is his only hope for the majors. Warmoth was #2, Jesus Navarro was #3 entering his age 23 season, hit 198/277/231 so no real future at this point.
- Others: Jordan Groshans is listed at SS, but most feel 3B is his future from what I've read (41 games at SS, 21 at 3B so far). He was covered nicely in the 3B thread. Otto Lopez was the regular in A ball and did very well (324/371/425) and just entering his age 22 season should be in A+ to start but could climb fast. Used at SS (82 games), 2B (19 games), LF (11 games), and RF (5 innings) so lots of options going forward. .Tanner Morris was in Vancouver, entering his age 23 season he hit 246/384/346 as a minor league rookie. Bluefield had Leonardo Jimenez as the regular who hit 298/377/377 and was 1 for 6 in Lansing, is entering his age 20 season and will be playing somewhere. Orelvis Martinez was in the GCL Jay team hitting 275/352/549 as a rookie - entering just age 19 season this year and would be in a short season team if the Jays have any.
- Marcus Semien - played in Oakland, just a 91 OPS+/wRC+ in 2020, 105 lifetime. 4.8 UZR/150 in 2020, but -0.3 lifetime (3 years in a row of strong positives after 3 negative years suggests he is working on his defense). Could be a good one to chase down with all eyes on Lindor instead. He was 3rd for MVP in 2019, 8.9 WAR so he can do it. Entering his age 30 season. No qualifying offer.
- Didi Gregorius - played in Philly, 116 wRC+, 99 lifetime. -1.5 UZR/150 in 2020, 2.3 lifetime. Entering age 31 season. Not too high on him myself. No qualifying offer though so he only costs cash.
- Ha-Seong Kim - covered nicely at 3B, but was a regular SS
- OK, elephant in the room time - Francisco Lindor with Cleveland at the moment, but will be traded according to all reports at some point and wants a $300 million+ 10 year+ deal or will go to free agency after 2021. 11.7 UZR/150 last year, 11.1 lifetime. 100 wRC+ last year, 118 lifetime. Entering his age 27 season so if anyone was to get a 10 year deal he is a good choice. (age 27-36). So is he worth giving up 3 really good prospects and $300+ million? That is the question. Bichette specifically mentioned he'd move to any other position to make room for Lindor.
Can't imagine the Jays going for anything less than Lindor or Semien when they already have Bichette. Both MVP candidates, both strong on defense and offense. Gregorius is good on offense and meh on defense. A few good guys in the lower minors and Smith is decent in AAA probably in 2021. Espinal a solid backup. Jays are A-OK if they do nothing, but Lindor and Semien are both soooo tempting. Semien only costs cash (no QO), so while the Jays haven't been mentioned with hm I'd put him high on the list of possibilities, as he would be far cheaper than Lindor in cash and players.