Photo credit:Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
For the nostalgic Blue Jays fan, Vol. 3: Eric Sogard
By Evan Stack1 year ago
With a 67-95 record, not many good memories came from the 2019 Toronto Blue Jays. Outside of the debuts of Vladdy, Bo, and Cavan Biggio, Jays fans were forced to watch Buddy Boshers pitch meaningful innings and Trent Thornton lead the team in starts.
However, the Blue Jays turned an offseason minor league signing into a solid leadoff hitter for the first half of the season. That man was Eric Sogard.
Sogard spent six seasons in Oakland from 2010 through 2015, as well as two years in Milwaukee prior to his time north of the border. The veteran utility man was part of the Oakland A’s during their three consecutive years of making the playoffs from 2012-2014, making him teammates with future Blue Jay Josh Donaldson.
Sogard’s glove was valued more than his bat, as he was able to play a variety of positions, but his batting average hovered around the mid to early .200s.
Nicknamed “Nerd Power” because of the goggles that he wore every game, Sogard was inked to a minor league deal with the Blue Jays in December of 2018. He was relegated to Buffalo to start the 2019 season, as the Jays were utilizing some of their youth at the infield spots.
Midway through April, Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (who started out as a second baseman/shortstop), began to experience a bounty of struggles in the field. During a weekend series with the Rays on April 13 and 14, Gurriel recorded an abysmal throwing error in each of the two games. Pair that with his .175 batting average, and the Blue Jays felt they needed to send Gurriel down to Buffalo for a restart.
The corresponding move? Sogard to the majors.
It didn’t take long for Nerd Power’s impact to be felt, as his first game with Toronto was a 3-for-5 effort against the Minnesota Twins. As the days went on, Sogard became a mainstay in the top of the lineup for the Blue Jays. He kept a batting average above .300 his entire first month with Toronto, and showed a new pop in his bat that he hadn’t had before.
Throughout his 73 games with Toronto, Sogard hit 10 home runs with 30 RBIs. Those aren’t eye-popping numbers, but his previous season high in home runs was three with the Oakland A’s in 2013. He also posted a .363 OBP with a .477 SLG, contributing to a career-best .840 OPS.
His most memorable hits were a go-ahead solo home run in the 7th inning against the Kansas City Royals on June 28, 2019, as well as a 6-for-11 series with two home runs against the Oakland A’s in late April.
Not only was his bat becoming beneficial to the lineup, Sogard’s glove became integral to the defense that Charlie Montoyo threw out on the field every day. Sogard logged time playing five different positions, as well as DH’ing some. He played second, third, short, left field, and right field.
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As the trade deadline was nearing, and the Blue Jays likely not looking to retain Sogard any longer than the 2019 season, Ross Atkins started to field calls on Sogard as a potential trade chip.
Clearly showing some jealousy, as acquiring players who find a career renaissance was their role in the MLB, the Tampa Bay Rays were the ultimate winners in the Eric Sogard sweepstakes.
Coincidentally enough, the Blue Jays were playing the Rays in the Rogers Center when Sogard was traded. He was a late scratch just minutes before the July 28th matchup, and he made the walk across the field to the opposite dugout. He was dealt to Tampa in exchange for two PTBNLs at the time.
Those players were eventually revealed to be two pitchers: Curtis Taylor and Edisson Gonzalez. Taylor is now in the Washington Nationals organization, while Gonzalez is still in Dunedin with the Baby Jays.
Sogard continued to play a valuable role with the Rays, who eventually made their way to the playoffs. He hit a home run off of Gerrit Cole of the Houston Astros in Game 5 of the ALDS, but that also turned out to be the game in which the Rays’ season ended.
Since 2019, Sogard has spent time with the Brewers and the Cubs, but has not played in a MLB game since 2021. God bless you, Nerd Power.
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