Photo credit:© Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports
Second base should be Davis Schneider’s position to lose for the Toronto Blue Jays next season
2 months ago
So far this offseason, the Toronto Blue Jays haven’t made much noise on either the trade or free agent front other than a few MiLB deals and trading for left-hander Brendon Little. This inactivity has left the fanbase at odds with the new year just a few weeks away, especially since the Blue Jays walked away from the Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes empty-handed while their division rivals continue to make moves within the hotly contested AL East division.
While the “Shatkins” fanatics have their pitchforks at the ready, despite adding a top-tier free agent over the past four offseasons, the free agent market still has plenty of names available despite the weaker class, including the likes of Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Cody Bellinger, Rhys Hoskins, J.D. Martinez, and former Blue Jays third baseman Matt Chapman (amongst others). The front office does have some time to make a move or two before Spring Training rolls around and considering how the 2023 season ended, one can likely guess that Ross Atkins and co. are likely looking to line something up, considering they seem to have ownership support to continue spending (as indicated by Mark Shapiro at his end of year press conference) and their backs against the wall given the lack of postseason success.
The 2024 roster will look quite different with Hyun Jin Ryu, Kevin Kiermaier, Brandon Belt, and Whit Merrifield unlikely to return, however, the Jays have a few infield prospects who are aligned for an increased role next season given the open roster spots.
One player who meets these criteria is second baseman Davis Schneider.
Davis Schneider should be the Blue Jays second baseman next season
Schneider exploded onto the big league scene last year at Fenway Park, going 9 for 13 with two home runs and nine RBIs against the Red Sox in early August. That impressive feat, combined with an open bench spot, saw Schneider finish the campaign on the big league squad, providing an offensive spark for a Jays squad that was struggling to score. As one expected, even amidst the offensive outburst, the .600+ batting average was not sustainable in the long run and Schneider saw his fair share of rough outings, including a stretch in September where he couldn’t find a hit through nine games to finish the year, seeing his average drop to a “paltry” .276 while adding eight home runs and 20 RBIs to the tune of a 1.008 OPS.
Last season, the Blue Jays used five players at second base, with Merrifield leading the charge (84 games) while Cavan Biggio and Santiago Epsinal followed behind the former Royal at 49 and 47 games apiece. Schneider slotted fourth in the standings with 182 2/3 innings on the right side of second base, finishing with a 0 DRS while sporting a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage, making the routine plays and showcasing his athleticism on both sides of the ball.
Heading into next season, the current roster has a hole at second base, with competition likely brewing between Espinal, Biggio, and Schneider to see who can take the full-time role out of Spring Training and run away with it into the regular season. All three players will likely break camp with the big league club regardless of whatever capacity they slot in, but if I were a betting man, I truly think second base is Davis Schneider’s position to lose.
While both Espinal and Biggio possess more big-league experience than the moustached New Jersey product, there is no denying Schneider’s bat is one that should be in the lineup regularly even if he swings from the right side, a trait the Blue Jays possess throughout their current batting order. I see the Blue Jays continuing to experiment with Biggio in a utility role while working with him more in a fourth outfielder rotation and Espinal likely has the inside track to third base unless the Jays bring back Chapman or another free agent (barring a trade). The advantage Biggio has over his teammates is that he is a lefty-bat, which the Jays have favoured with John Schneider at the helm (no relation) and utilizing the off-hand pitching matchups as such if last season was any tell from the analytics department.
Schneider can make the routine plays at second base and has a strong enough arm to turn double plays and also make the throws on the run to both sides of the ball, and while Biggio and Espinal can also sling it from second base, Schneider’s bat is tough to ignore compared to the other two. The former 28th-round pick has a knack for hitting the long ball when the Blue Jays need a jolt, and he posted a 1.8 bWAR through just two months with the Jays, slotting ahead of Biggio, Espinal, Merrifield, and Danny Jansen, albeit through a smaller sample size.
Second base is Schneider’s to lose in 2024
One could make the argument that a full season as an everyday player could see Schneider sway at the plate but that’s the risk the Jays might need to take next season, especially if they bring back Chapman or sign a high-profile free agent like Bellinger and need to rely on some pre-arbitration talent on the field. With Schneider at second base, the Jays could also explore the trade market for Espinal or Biggio this winter or at the trade deadline, and while neither will return a king’s ransom like some think Reds infielder Jonathan India is worth this winter, the years of control of both players with a prospect or two added in could provide the Jays with some trade value to trade for benefits elsewhere on the roster.
Overall, with some holes on the squad heading into next season and a couple of months before Spring Training rolls around, one area the Blue Jays really don’t need to worry about is second base, as internal options are available to take up the spot without jeopardizing the lineup with a subpar bat or a defensive liability. After a strong finish to the 2023 season, if Davis Schneider can prove that his power bat and ability to get on base wasn’t a sample-sized fluke at the tail end of the season early next year, he should get the nod at second base to open the 2024 season.
Recent articles from Tyson Shushkewich