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Better know your Blue Jays 40-man: Santiago Espinal

Wild Card Series - Toronto Blue Jays v. Minnesota Twins - Game One Photo by Daniel Shirey/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Santiago Espinal is a 29-year-old utility infielder. He came to us in trade from the Red Sox at the end of June 2018, a deal that got the Red Sox a World Series MVP (Steve Pearce).

Espinal played 26 games in 2020 and then had a breakout season in 2021, hitting .311/.376/.405 with 2 home runs, 22 walks, and 30 strikeouts. The fanbase was split on whether we had a star or if he played way over his head. It turned out to be the latter.

He did make the All-Star team in 2022, off a .271/.320/.391 line with 6 home runs. That’s not generally what I would consider All-Star numbers, but it was a feel-story.

The second half didn’t go as well (.258/.329/.315 line, with 1 home run). But he was a good defensive second baseman and could fill in at short or third (playing very good defense at both positions).

2023 was another step in the wrong direction. He hit just .248/.310/.335 (80 OPS+), and it, at the very least, seemed that he wasn’t playing the great defence he had in the past (Fangraphs had him at a -3.6 UZR/150 at the second). And he made 6 errors in 304 innings, when, in 2022, he had 4 errors in 945 innings).

To make matters worse, he stopped hitting left-handers (.657 OPS vs. LHP and .633 vs. RHP) like he had in the past, and hitting lefties was his ticket to playing time. He did have a stronger second half (.279/.319/.378) than first half (.219/.301/.294).

Espinal is in a tough spot; the Jays are armpit-deep in utility-type players. But Santiago has a one-year $2.725 million contract, so he has a leg up. The team could look to trade him, but teams aren’t clamouring to make deals for 0.1 fWAR (last year) players.

Before the signing of Isiah Kiner-Falefa, there was a path for him to platoon with Cavan Biggio at second or third base. With IKF, Espinal seems redundant. I’d like to see Davis Schneider and Orelvis Martinez get playing time this year if it is a choice between Espinal and them.

Espanal does have 2 option years left.

PECOTA expects Santiago to play in 60 games and hit .258/.320/.362. Personally, if he hits like that, I’d prefer he not make it into 60 games.

ZiPS has him playing 114 games, hitting .268/.327/.363.

Steamer: 78 games with a .269/.329/.380 line.

Poll

If the over/under on Espinal’s games played is 60 I’d take the

This poll is closed

  • 39%
    Over
    (105 votes)
  • 60%
    Under
    (162 votes)
267 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Who will get the most at bats

This poll is closed

  • 57%
    Cavan Biggio
    (189 votes)
  • 5%
    Santiago Espinal
    (19 votes)
  • 1%
    Orelvis Martinez
    (5 votes)
  • 35%
    Davis Schneider
    (117 votes)
330 votes total Vote Now

Poll

September 1st Espinal will be

This poll is closed

  • 25%
    A Blue Jay
    (78 votes)
  • 15%
    A Bison
    (49 votes)
  • 59%
    In another organization
    (185 votes)
312 votes total Vote Now