Inbox: What will it take for Martinez, Barger to earn a promotion?

April 21st, 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.

It’s finally starting to feel like the season is settling into itself.

The hot and cold starts are normalizing, trends are emerging and, unfortunately, injuries are piling up across baseball. A lot has changed in just three weeks.

Here are your questions from this week, in the latest edition of the Blue Jays Inbox:

Realistically, what are the conditions where Orelvis Martinez or Addison Barger come up to the Majors? -- @Jaspreet_D
This is the right way to look at it. Martinez -- the Blue Jays' No. 2 prospect -- had five homers in five games from Sunday through Friday and Barger (No. 6) looks great, but how’s this actually going to work?

This early in the season, positions still matter. If the Blue Jays need a second baseman, Martinez is next in line. If they need a third baseman or a corner outfielder, then it shifts to Barger. Martinez doesn’t bring much defensive versatility to the big leagues, so unless there’s an injury, this is about him kicking the door down offensively. That’s starting to happen.

Martinez is batting .328 with a 1.041 OPS and five home runs in 17 games. If he’s still on this same trajectory a month from now, it doesn’t matter who’s healthy and who’s not. The Blue Jays, still not hitting for much power, won’t be able to hold him down.

If Martinez, Barger or Will Robertson get called up, who gets sent down? -- @BlueJaysDomain
Barring an injury, this is still a crowded infield. Ernie Clement looks like he belongs in the lineup five times a week, Cavan Biggio is in a good spot and Davis Schneider represents the power upside the Blue Jays can’t afford to lose. Instead, Daniel Vogelbach’s spot as a DH and bench bat comes into the spotlight.

Three weeks ago, it felt like that roster spot was Joey Votto’s to take a run at eventually. But with his ramp-up taking longer than expected, that’s the spot the Blue Jays will look at when asking themselves, “Do we have our best 13 hitters on the roster?”

If Vladdy continues to demonstrate that he is not an elite player, what type of contract do you think he will land in two years (averaging an .800 OPS, 25 HRs and 100 RBIs) and will it be with the Blue Jays? -- Chad W.
Let’s look for comps. If Vladimir Guerrero Jr. stays where his numbers have been from 2022 to present, is a team going to go for a 10-year contract? Would it pass $200 million? Even though we’re looking at drastically different players, something in the range of Marcus Semien (seven years, $175 million) or Kris Bryant (seven years, $182 million) might be in the right ballpark.

All it takes is one big season, though. Guerrero’s 2024 isn’t off to the hottest start, but if he finds his way to 40 home runs and a .900 OPS in one of these final two seasons, the numbers of that potential contract start to change. When it comes to the Blue Jays specifically, I always say: Never underestimate how attractive it is to have 10-15 teams bidding for your services, not just one.

Have there been any discussions on a Kikuchi extension? -- @cbend88
There should be. While I haven’t heard much on that front just yet, Yusei Kikuchi has all of the traits the Blue Jays love in a pitcher (primarily his athleticism) and we’re finally seeing what the organization saw in him all along. There’s comfort on both sides of this equation. Money matters more than anything, but this could make a lot of sense.

Have the Blue Jays ever said what Manoah's issue is? What is the long-term plan? -- @GuitarDawn
The full story of Alek Manoah’s past 12 months hasn’t been written yet. It may never be. When I sat out parts of the Manoah discourse in 2023, that was intentional, because I don’t like dealing with half a story -- particularly when someone’s career is in the balance.

Long-term, he’s part of the plan. I understand the frustration from fans -- absolutely -- but the Blue Jays can still be as patient as they want with Manoah. I expect they will be, and they will exhaust all options.

What's the starting pitching depth like with Wes Parsons & Mitch White gone, and Ricky Tiedemann on the IL with elbow discomfort? -- @CharlieKime1
Great question, because this has changed … a lot. I loved the Blue Jays’ rotation depth a month ago, but it looks completely different now. If Toronto suddenly needed a starter tomorrow, Bowden Francis would be next in line with Paolo Espino behind him. This makes Manoah’s return even more important.