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Better know your Blue Jays 40-man: Santiago Espinal

American League Wild Card Series: Seattle Mariners v. Toronto Blue Jays Photo by Thomas Skrlj/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Santiago Espinal turned 28 last November.

Espinal came to the Blue Jays from the Red Sox in trade for Steve Pearce back in July of 2018, one of those trades that worked out well for both teams. We got a useful player. The Sox got the World Series MVP. I’d feel good about it if it wasn’t the Red Sox that Pearce helped out.

He had quite the year. At this time last year, it looked like he’d share be sharing third base (but then we traded for Matt Chapman), then seemed sure of a spot as a utility guy, came out of spring training being the lesser half of a second base platoon, was one of the few Jays who started the season hitting well, took over the full-time second base job, made it to the All-Star game and lost his full-time second base role over the last couple of month of the season (he also inspired run-on sentences apparently).

A month before spring training starts this year, he looks to be in line for the utility job. Maybe a share of the second base job? I think Whit Merrifield is ahead of him on the depth chart at the moment, but a good spring training. Who knows? I mean, if Cavan Biggio has a great spring training, he could end up the second baseman.

Espinal, at least to me, seems the best of the three defensively (though Merrifield isn’t bad). If run prevention is as important to the team as it seems, Espinal should have a leg up. Of course, he’d likely be the best defensive SS too. But they aren’t going to move Bo for Santiago (now, if they had been successful in their alleged pursuit of Xander Bogaerts, then likely Bo would have moved).

I wasn’t a fan of trading for Whit Merrifield and using him at third over Santiago. Espinal had a pretty bad July with the bat (.256/.301/.295), but most players tend to have a down month at some point during the season (and Merrifield wasn’t hitting any better with the Royals). You had a guy picked for the All-Star team, and you traded for a guy hitting .240/.290/.352 to take at-bats away for him. But Whit was handy in CF and hit better for the Jays (if you ignore his first 30 or so games with us, when With was hitting .192) than he did with the Royals.

Santiago is 28. He’s likely two seasons away from getting his utility infielder union card that will keep him in the majors until his late 30s. He might be the type that wins a fulltime job each spring and then looks to replace him late in the year or in the off-season.

Steamer predicts that Santiago will play 118 games and hit .268/.328/.387 (roughly the same batting line as last year, with a few fewer games).


Who will get the most playing time at second base?

This poll is closed

  • 9%
    (40 votes)
  • 43%
    (182 votes)
  • 46%
    (197 votes)
  • 0%
    Someone Else
    (4 votes)
423 votes total Vote Now


If the over/under on Espinal’s OPS is .715 I’d take the

This poll is closed

  • 42%
    (138 votes)
  • 57%
    (185 votes)
323 votes total Vote Now


If the over/under on Santiago’s games played is 118 I’d take the

This poll is closed

  • 46%
    (147 votes)
  • 53%
    (171 votes)
318 votes total Vote Now