On July 10, in the midst of the Toronto Blue Jays’ summer camp, manager Charlie Montoyo dropped a bombshell by moving Vladimir Guerrero Jr. to first base.
Not blessed with the physical attributes of your typical major league third baseman, a move to first base had been in the cards since Vladimir Guerrero Jr.‘s MLB debut with the Toronto Blue Jays.
The voices pushing for this potential positional swap were amplified when the young prospect struggled at the hot corner in his rookie season, committing 17 errors. Montoyo’s decision to jettison Guerrero Jr. to the opposite side of the diamond does not come without consequences, however.
Here are three ways Guerrero Jr.’s move to first base will affect the Blue Jays’ roster:
1) Who’s on third?
With Guerrero Jr. moving to first, the logical question to now ask is just who is going to take his place? Currently, there are three players who have been pushing for playing time at Toronto’s hot corner, with none as of yet staking their claim to the position in the early going.
Brandon Drury had an unassuming 65 game stint for the Blue Jays at third base in 2019, committing four errors while sporting a fielding percentage of .975. With four games already under his belt at third in 2020, he seems to be the favourite to fill in for Guerrero Jr.
However, if Drury is chosen to be the everyday third baseman, his utility is removed from the lineup. The native of Grants Pass, Oregon, played at seven different positions for Toronto last season.
Initially thought to be the heir apparent to Justin Smoak at first base, Travis Shaw now finds himself in the running to play third. Standing at 6-foot-4 and 230 pounds, Shaw also doesn’t fit the prototypical mould of a third baseman.
Third is where the career utility man has seen the bulk of his playing time though, having played 435 career games at third. Due to being placed on the Family Medical Leave list, Shaw has only played two games with the Blue Jays this season, one at first, and one at third.
Also in the running is Joe Panik. A second baseman for 646 out of 650 career MLB games, the Blue Jays seem to believe the former all-star can make the switch to third, or even play a little shortstop whenever Bo Bichette is unable.
Panik has had equal reps at third, short and second so far this season, with two games spent at each infield station.