If the Blue Jays are going to bring in a third baseman, they should aim for top talent, or just roll with what they already have.
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The Toronto Blue Jays could use an upgrade at third base. This isn’t something newly discovered, of course. It has long been assumed (at least the lockout makes it feel long) that the Blue Jays would be in the hunt for a big upgrade. Whether you want that to be Matt Chapman or Jose Ramirez, who Shi Davidi told me not to rule out as an option, it is safe to assume that Ross Atkins has at least checked in on someone like that. Kris Bryant still remains a free agent. There are options out there.
One option that came up back in December was from Ben Nicholson-Smith, who suggested that 34 old, Josh Harrison could be a fit for the Blue Jays.
Harrison hit .279/.341/.400 over 138 games in 2021, playing six positions with a 106 OPS+ & 2.1 WAR.
Have heard some clubs view him as 2B while others see 3B or super-util. Could see potential fits including Jays, Marlins, Angels & Dodgers depending on how infield market moves.
— Ben Nicholson-Smith (@bnicholsonsmith) December 20, 2021
That is something I hadn’t thought of, so wanted to look into it to see if there is something to it. Harrison is coming off a 2021 season where he hit 8 HR, a .741 OPS that included an OBP of .341, a wRC+ of 103 from the right side of the plate. Defensively speaking, Harrison has spent last season playing all over the diamond, but if Toronto is to be a fit for him, he’d likely be destined for third base with second as a back up. At the hot corner, Harrison put up 1 DRS and a UZR/150 of 11.3 and 2 OAA in 2021.
|11 Y||11 Y||11 Y||3808||442||960||196||30||64||351||89||163||571||.274||.318||.401||.719|
|NL (||NL (||NL (||3462||413||889||179||29||61||321||81||151||519||.279||.323||.411||.734|
|AL (||AL (||AL (||346||29||71||17||1||3||30||8||12||52||.220||.263||.307||.570|
So, how would he fit with the Blue Jays? Well, to put it bluntly, if they’re looking for another Santiago Espinal, then I suppose Harrison would be a fit. Espinal, for his part, had a great offensive season and made the most of his playing time. He hit for an OPS of .781 with 2 HR and a wRC+ of 115. He added 5 OAA at third. Fangraphs projections think that hsi 2021 was a bit above his head and that he’ll see anywhere from 77 to 91 wRC+ with fewer than 10 HR. For comparison, Harrison is projected to hit 10 HR and a wRC+ of 95. If Espinal weren’t 27, you’d think they were pretty similar players with the edge going to Espinal on defense. Is Toronto likely to see Harrison as an upgrade? That’s difficult to imagine.
The ONLY way Harrison is an option is if Atkins has already swung and missed on some REAL upgrades. My infatuation with Matt Chapman has already been documented, so I will simply link to it without stating all the reasons again. I’ve long been calling for a trade to happen so the Blue Jays can take advantage of Chapman’s defense and his potential bat, but I also did so under the assumption that JRam is not an option, which as previously stated, may have been short sighted of me.
It’s an odd time to be a Blue Jays fan. On the one hand, we are afraid to really believe in the potential big splashes, preferring to hang onto the excitement rather than have hope crushed. So, we dismiss the JRams, the Chapmans or even the Bryants as pipe dreams that likely won’t happen because of the seemingly high acquisition cost. On the other hand, the 2022 season just might be the time for the Blue Jays to really make a push for a playoff run. As such, big moves should be the target
It is with this in mind that I write that the Blue Jays should be looking well over the head of a guy like Josh Harrison. With all due respect to the player, they already have one of him. Espinal is a younger, cheaper version. And, if the Blue Jays are not going to aim high, or they do and end up missing out, then they should just run with Espinal as their third baseman and see what the trade deadline has to offer if an upgrade is needed then.
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Shaun Doyle is a long time Blue Jays fan and writer! He decided to put those things together and create Jays From the Couch. Shaun is the host of Jays From the Couch Radio, which is highly ranked in iTunes, and he has appeared on TV and radio spots.