Projecting the Blue Jays' lineup with Turner aboard

February 1st, 2024

This story was excerpted from Keegan Matheson’s Blue Jays Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

Welcome to the puzzle,

The 39-year-old veteran has been there, done that. Turner has maintained consistent production well past when most players retire, let alone decline, and the Blue Jays are betting on him doing that again with a one-year, $13 million deal

Turner fits the roster of most contenders well, both on and off the field, but this Blue Jays offseason still feels one major move away from everything falling into place. As constructed, Toronto would still be betting on internal improvements to raise the ceiling from one year ago, which is a dangerous game to play. If the past four years and three sweeps in the American League Wild Card Series have taught this organization anything, it’s the value of winning the AL East. Doing that requires more.

Let’s lay out how this all looks with just two weeks until Toronto's first workout for pitchers and catchers.

Projected lineup
1. George Springer, RF
2. Bo Bichette, SS
3. Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 1B
4. Justin Turner, DH
5. Davis Schneider or Cavan Biggio, 2B
6. Danny Jansen or Alejandro Kirk, C
7. Daulton Varsho, LF
8. Isiah Kiner-Falefa, 3B
9. Kevin Kiermaier, CF

Schneider or Biggio
Jansen or Kirk
INF Santiago Espinal
1B Spencer Horwitz

Other options
INF Ernie Clement
INF Orelvis Martinez (MLB Pipeline's No. 2 Blue Jays prospect)
INF Addison Barger (No. 5)
INF Damiano Palmegiani (No. 18)
OF Alan Roden (No. 7)
OF Nathan Lukes

There are 1,000 variables here, of course. Second base feels like a timeshare, which is a sensible move for the Blue Jays given their depth. Power-hitting prospect Martinez, who could force the club’s hand by midseason, is probably best suited at that position, too.

Then we come to the DH reps. The majority of those would belong to Turner under this current construction, but “majority” means something closer to 60-70% here, not every single game. There could be days when Turner plays third and Kiner-Falefa plays the outfield based on matchups. Frankly, having Kiner-Falefa play a good chunk of games in the outfield would be the best way to maximize Toronto’s bench options … unless another big name is added.

That’s why third base remains the Blue Jays’ biggest opportunity. Oddly enough, a Matt Chapman reunion would fit this roster even better now than three months ago, and it would allow John Schneider to deploy Kiner-Falefa as another versatile piece. There could be a fit for a power-hitting outfield/DH hybrid, too, and while all of these options feel like they’d lead to Toronto rolling out 140 lineups over 162 games, the club seems comfortable doing so.

The bench spots could be particularly interesting. The organization loves Horwitz’s bat, but are there enough reps for him with Guerrero and Turner on the roster? Is a true fourth outfielder needed, or can the Blue Jays get by with Kiner-Falefa, Biggio and others sliding out? What is Espinal’s standout trait off the bench? If a prospect kicks the door down -- namely Martinez or Roden by midsummer -- all of this would come into focus much more clearly. 

That’s where this offseason still stands for the Blue Jays. It’s a very good roster with the potential to repeat 2023’s 89-win season, but again, this is an organization that needs to take a run at the division title, not the final Wild Card spot. Another bat is needed, one which would make each previous move shine brighter.