It was really just a matter of time.
According to Ben Nicholson-Smith, Charlie Montoyo said on Friday that the Blue Jays will shift Vladimir Guererro Jr’s focus to first base and designated hitter. He’ll still be an option at third base, but it’ll no longer be his primary position.
Travis Shaw will now be the team’s primary third baseman and Brandon Drury would presumably sub in against left-handed pitching.
Major development for Blue Jays: Vlad Guerrero Jr. will now focus on first base this spring per Charlie Montoyo
"He's going to focus on 1B and DH." Third will be an option, but not his main position anymore.
— Ben Nicholson-Smith (@bnicholsonsmith) July 10, 2020
It always seemed inevitable that Vlad would eventually get pulled away from third but it’s a little bit interesting that it’s happening so quickly. Vlad has only played 824 1/3 innings at third at the Major League level, and while his work in the field certainly wasn’t inspiring, you’d have thought they might have given him another year to try and hack it.
I guess it just became clear that Vlad simply wasn’t going to be a third baseman and the organization decided it would be better off focusing efforts on teaching him how to play first base, which is a position he could actually occupy long-term.
We probably aren’t that far away from Jordan Groshans cracking the roster, in which third seems like his likely spot. Austin Martin could end up at third, too. So it really just doesn’t seem worthwhile to continue trotting Vlad out on the hot corner.
Looking at the big picture, this move obviously makes quite a bit of sense, but it also makes the Blue Jays’ infield quite a bit better right now. Shaw isn’t an elite third baseman by any means, but he’s a big upgrade defensively on Vlad.
There are only 60 games this season and, if everything goes right, the Blue Jays could surprise. In such a short sprint, and this goes without saying, they need to put the strongest team out there each game, so this move does fulfill a short-term function beyond just making sense long-term.