Today, I take an easier look at the Blue Jays roster going forward. The infield.
The left side is all but guaranteed with Brett Lawrie at 3rd and Yunel Escobar at SS. Escobar is under team control through 2015 while Lawrie is controlled for even longer. The only issue that remains is WHEN Lawrie will receive a contract extension. While currently making the league minimum, the Blue Jays could be apt to offer him an Evan Longoria type deal to lock him up for a lot less than they would need if they waited until his years of arbitration. Longoria was signed to a 6 year/$17.5 million contract with 3 club options.
On to the rest of the infield.
JP Arencibia - after a solid rookie campaign, JP will be looking to improve upon his offence in 2012. What impressed me most about his 2011 campaign was his ability to throw out baserunners in the 2nd half. Showed a great deal of accuracy on the majority of his throws. With a little more focus on his offence in 2012, JP could experience a breakout year that a fully believe will place him as one of the leagues best receivers.
Travis D'Arnaud - Travis will begin in AAA in 2012, where he'll refine his skills to make sure he is MLB ready. So any catcher controversies you want to throw out there will have to wait until 2013. I still believe there is room for both catchers on the Blue Jays, considering that Edwin Encarnacion is set to become a free agent at the end of 2012, opening up a possible catcher/DH platoon.
Kelly Johnson - KJ returns after accepting arbitration where he could either sign an extension with the Blue Jays, or look to raise his stock for a long term deal after 2012. I think what happens here will determine whether or not Hechavarria is set in the Blue Jays long term plans.
Adeiny Hechavarria (also SS) - although his bat continues to have a lot of potential, Adeiny has yet to show it other than in a small sample size in AAA last season. A solid season refining in AAA could allow for a more finite decision on whether the Blue Jays go with an all Cuban middle infield in 2013.
Adam Lind - Adam Lind showed 2009 form at the plate for the first half of 2011, but broke down through the long season and continued some horrible numbers against lefties. The Blue Jays 2012 line up should allow for Lind to get the day off with an opposing lefty on the mound.
Edwin Encarnacion - showing improved versatility in the field and patience at the plate, Edwin Encarnacion enters the last year of his contract with an extension in mind. Adding his ability to play 3B and even left field, he could be a darkhorse candidate for a long term extension if he has a stellar year at the plate.
Michael McDade - switching hitting 1B with pop, McDade also plays a solid defence at 1B. In my opinion, I'd like to see McDade get a taste of the MLB if an injury opens up a spot for him.
David Cooper - I liken Cooper to the 1B version of Howie Clark. He'll hit in the majors, but not enough for the position he plays (which he doesn't really play all that well).
The biggest question you have to ask when looking at 1B is do you go with these internal options, or try to land a big gun in Fielder or even Joey Votto. Even Logan Morrisson is a thought. Looking long term, I just don't see Lind's bat playing enough for 1B. I'm also a firm believer that Votto is already on the Blue Jays roster whether it be by trade or waiting until he hits free agency.
That being said, I prefer Encarnacion's bat at 1B over Lind right now. But I'm really interested in McDade. A switch hitting power bat that plays solid defence at 1st. I still think eventually the Blue Jays will try to land Votto.
As for 2B, with not much in external options, what you see is what you get. You'll either have Escobar and Johnson, or Hechavarria and Escobar. We'll find out by the end of this season which combo it will be.
Tomorrow I'll have a look at the Blue Jays outfield.
As always, catch me on twitter @gcm1979