3 position battles that will define Blue Jays Spring Training, and who will win

The Toronto Blue Jays have some compelling positional battles for fans to keep an eye on during Spring Training.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Ernie Clement during the 2023 MLB season
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Ernie Clement during the 2023 MLB season / Vaughn Ridley/GettyImages
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Battle for the middle infield

Eduardo Escobar 

Earlier this week, the Toronto Blue Jays signed Eduardo Escobar to a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training. Not that the team needed more external players to add to the competition, but nonetheless, Escobar is a savvy vet who has spent more than 10 seasons in the big leagues. 

The big advantage Escobar possesses over almost everyone else on this team is his extreme defensive versatility. Throughout his career, he has spent significant time playing 2B, 3B, SS, and LF, all at an above-average level. The area in which Escobar trails everyone else, though, is with his bat. For his career, Escobar slashes .253/.305/.430. He also has a very poor walk-to-strikeout ratio of 0.34, and he has rarely shown consistent power. His best season was back in 2019 when he hit 35 home runs. 

Ernie Clement 

Since originally getting the call to the show in 2021 by the Cleveland Guardians (he was signed by the Blue Jays in spring 2023), Ernie Clement has been back and forth throughout the MLB and AAA. Ernie Clement was never a high draft pick or highly touted prospect, but in the late part of the 2023 season, he made himself a strong case to stay on the Blue Jays roster.

Prior to his debut with the Jays last season, Clement slashed .204/.261/.264 with 3 career home runs and 15 RBIs (in 109 career games). However, after swapping between AAA and the big leagues throughout 2023, Clement found his stride late in the year and put together a solid season as a backup, slashing .380/.385/.500. Sure, this was in a very small sample size (52 plate appearances), but there is reason to believe that Clement developed and actually improved his game, and this new form is here to stay. 

Prediction: Barring an extremely poor spring from Clement and an excellent spring from Escobar, the Blue Jays will choose Clement to stay and play on the major league roster.