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Shapiro: Blue Jays proactive with infield depth

Toronto's offseason additions help offset risk of injuries
MLB.com @gregorMLB

TORONTO -- The Blue Jays expect to have Troy Tulowitzki and Devon Travis healthy for the start of the season, but their checkered history of injuries has played a major role in Toronto's offseason.

Toronto has a projected starting infield of Tulowitzki, Travis, Josh Donaldson and Justin Smoak, but despite all of the returning players, the Blue Jays made infield depth their top priority. The moves to acquire Aledmys Diaz and Yangervis Solarte raised more than a few eyebrows, but it doesn't necessarily mean a major shake-up is coming.

TORONTO -- The Blue Jays expect to have Troy Tulowitzki and Devon Travis healthy for the start of the season, but their checkered history of injuries has played a major role in Toronto's offseason.

Toronto has a projected starting infield of Tulowitzki, Travis, Josh Donaldson and Justin Smoak, but despite all of the returning players, the Blue Jays made infield depth their top priority. The moves to acquire Aledmys Diaz and Yangervis Solarte raised more than a few eyebrows, but it doesn't necessarily mean a major shake-up is coming.

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There's a possibility that Travis could eventually end up in the outfield, but for now, these moves were made to solidify depth. On paper, there are not enough at-bats to go around, but after Travis and Tulowitzki spent significant time on the disabled list during each of the past three seasons, the Blue Jays know all too well how quickly that can change.

Video: Rosenthal breaks down impact of Solarte to Blue Jays

"I think the last couple of weeks were our efforts to recognize that we have two infielders that we feel strongly about in Troy Tulowitzki and Devon Travis, but both guys have had some injury issues and went into the offseason injured," Blue Jays president Mark Shapiro said during an appearance on MLB Network on Monday. "We still feel really good about their ability to be productive this year, but we felt like we had to offset the risk."

Travis is exactly the type of hitter the Blue Jays' lineup needs to be successful. He's the favorite to hit leadoff, and a .792 OPS over 213 career games proves there is a lot of upside in his bat. The problem is that Travis has never appeared in more than 101 games in a season and he has spent the offseason rehabbing from yet another knee injury.

Tulowitzki hasn't been able to avoid the DL since joining the Blue Jays either. He didn't play again after sustaining a severely sprained ankle in July that included ligament damage. Tulowitzki has been passing all of his tests this offseason, but as someone who hasn't played more than 131 games since 2011, he needs added protection as well.

"Over the offseason, he has gone through a progression with a physical therapist out in Las Vegas and has met every test and felt good along the way," Shapiro said of Tulowitzki. "Obviously, the last two years present some concern because when someone gets hurt a lot, it makes you start to be concerned about projecting for usage this year.

"We'll work with Troy. Troy is a pro, very intelligent player, understands his own game. We're going to have to be proactive in managing a workload, and I think that is a lot of what [general manager] Ross [Atkins] wanted to do with Diaz -- go out and make sure we've got guys around him so when [manager John Gibbons] does feel like it's the right time to keep Troy strong, to ensure he has the best chance possible to stay healthy, that we've got a quality Major League alternative in his place."

The Blue Jays are approximately one month away from the start of Spring Training, but they are eyeing upgrades in several areas of their roster. Shapiro was clear that his team is not done.

"Much like a lot of teams, our offseason is not over," Shapiro said. "We've been a slow player, but we still feel like we'd like to shore up the outfield and maybe add a depth piece to the rotation and still have some resources to work from."

Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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