Toronto Blue Jays 2018 Season Preview: Looking at the Infield

TORONTO, ON - MAY 26: Devon Travis
TORONTO, ON - MAY 26: Devon Travis /
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Yangervis Solarte, Second Baseman/Third Baseman

Solarte was one of the key moves to the Jays offseason to shore up the depth in the middle of the infield.

The 30-year-old can play all over the diamond, and he displayed his ability to do so when he played every spot, including first base, with the San Diego Padres last season.

The majority of his games were spent at second base, and that’s where Solarte will be expected to provide insurance for the injury-prone Travis.

With the glove, Solarte has a career .970 fielding percentage, with 47 errors in 541 games.

In 128 games last season, Solarte hit .255 with 18 home runs and 64 RBI’s. That came as a starter in San Diego though. Coming off the bench, it’s hard to have expectations that he will fare as well.

If Travis does go down with an injury at any point, Solarte will obviously get a lot more time on the field. It’s all a question of whether or not that will happen. We will have to wait and see.

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Aledmys Diaz, Shortstop/Third Baseman/Second Baseman

With Tulowitzki seemingly out of the picture for the first month of the season, Diaz has a real chance to show what he’s got.

With St. Louis last season, he played in 79 games, batting .259 with 17 doubles, seven home runs, and 20 RBI.

Diaz played all over the diamond for the Cardinals but spent the majority of his time at short where he had a .974 fielding percentage, 81 putouts and 147 assists, with six errors in 68 games.

Based on his projections for the season, Diaz should have a good outing at the plate this season. If he can continue to get extra base hits in American League ballparks, the Jays will have a solid option off the bench.

The only question is his production with the glove. If he can shore up that side of his game and limit the errors, he will be looked to a lot more to give Tulo some more rest to prevent injury during the season.

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Gift Ngoepe, Second Baseman/Shortstop/Third Baseman

Ngoepe will now be the first African-born player to make an MLB opening day roster. But the infielder brings much more than a bit of history to the team.

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Ngoepe only appeared in 28 games for Pittsburgh last year. In 63 plate appearances, he batted .222 with 12 hits, six RBI, and 26 strikeouts, while walking eight times.

In the field, Ngoepe started the majority of his games at second base, while making a few appearances at both the hot corner and shortstop. He finished with a perfect fielding percentage with 33 putouts and 44 assists.

With Tulowitzki being out for the first stretch of the season, it will give Ngoepe a chance to show his abilities, albeit in a reduced role off the bench.

The likely scenario is that he returns to triple-A Buffalo when Tulo comes back. Until then, he will have a chance to play behind Diaz and Solarte as a good third option for the Jays.

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Luke Maile, Catcher

For the majority of last season, Maile served as the backup catcher for the Jays. However, he did have to take over as the starter when Martin had two separate stints on the 10-day disabled list in 2017.

The 27-year-old didn’t have a banner year at the plate. He had a .146 batting average with just two home runs and seven RBI.

Whereas Maile didn’t have much success at the plate, he was more than serviceable behind it. He finished the year with a .989 fielding percentage with only four errors, 15 assists, and 343 putouts in 46 games with the Jays.

Martin turned 35 in February. His 91 games played last season was also the lowest in his tenure with the Jays. They will have to give Martin the necessary rest In order to keep him at the top of his game,

Maile should see his fair share of action in 2018, both as a backup and a possible defensive replacement.

Next: Toronto Blue Jays 2018 season preview Podcast

What do you make of the Toronto Blue Jays infield this season? Will the depth be able to keep up with injuries? Let us know in the comments.