While the Toronto Blue Jays spent the offseason overhauling several positions on the roster, the team decided not to pursue a veteran second baseman. Considering that Toronto’s second basemen batted a combined .247/.295/.340 with just a .634 OPS during the 2014 season, the team’s decision seemed even more puzzling.
As a result of Toronto’s decision to stand pat on this front, utility man Maicer Izturis is penciled in as the team’s starting second baseman heading into spring training.
Izturis played just 11 games in 2014, hitting .286/.324/.314 with one stolen base, one RBI and three runs scored during that span. He spent the rest of the year on the disabled list with a torn lateral collateral ligament in his left knee that required season-ending surgery.
It’s safe to say that up to this point, Izturis’ tenure with the Blue Jays hasn’t gone the way either side would’ve wanted.
After signing a three-year, $9 million deal with Toronto heading into 2013 campaign, Izturis went on to have one of the worst seasons of his career. He hit just .236/.288/.310 in 107 games and had an underwhelming OPS of .597. Defensively, Izturis made 10 errors while bouncing around from position to position. He posted a dWAR of -0.5, according to Baseball-Reference.com.
Now 34 years old, the switch-hitting Izturis will be attempting to come back from that serious injury during what will be his final guaranteed season with the Blue Jays. Toronto holds a $3 million club option on Izturis for the 2016 season.
Aside from Izturis, the Blue Jays don’t have many other options at second base. Ryan Goins—who hit .188 in 67 games in 2014—is likely the next player in line to get the job if Izturis underperforms or is injured again.
Toronto will also have second base prospect Devon Travis' auditioning for the second base role during spring training. While Travis posted good numbers in the minor leagues last season, he has never played above the Double-A level and will likely require further seasoning in Triple-A Buffalo before being ready for the big leagues.
If Izturis does get displaced for the second base starting job by one of the aforementioned players or a dark-horse candidate like Munenori Kawasaki, expect him to revert to his former role of utility infielder who can play multiple positions.
With the Blue Jays already having a top-heavy batting order, Toronto will need players like Izturis to step up and stabilize the bottom part of the order.
All stats are from Baseball-Reference.com