While the long-term expectation was that Vladimir Guerrero Jr. of the Blue Jays, who has MVP upside at the plate, would eventually be moved off third base, it didn't seem likely to happen quite this soon. Indeed, the Blue Jays have decided that Guerrero will be a primary first baseman and designated hitter moving forward.
"He's going to focus on first base and DH," Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo told reporters, including Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportset. Montoyo hinted that third will be an option, but not his main position anymore.
Guerrero, 21, is coming off a promising rookie campaign in 2019 in which he batted .272/.339/.433 with 15 home runs and 26 doubles in 123 games. Those numbers don't overwhelm at first blush, but in the context of a 20-year-old facing major-league pitching for the first time -- and coming off a tremendous minor-league career -- it's highly impressive. The returns in the field, however, were much less promising. According to StatCast, Guerrero had an outs above average mark of -16 in just 824 1/3 innings in the field. That made him far and away the worst defensive third baseman in baseball last season. That's pretty much in keeping with the eye test and his defensive reputation coming in.
Making the move this early in his career is a bit surprising, but it was an inevitable decision. The move will necessarily improve Toronto defensively and allow Guerrero to put more emphasis on developing his generational bat. As manager Charlie Montoyo suggests, Guerrero will not be banished from the hot corner forevermore, but for now it's proper to consider him a primary first baseman and DH.
Free agent addition Travis Shaw figures to become the new regular at third base for the Jays. Guerrero, meantime, will likely split time with Rowdy Tellez at first base and perhaps get most of his reps at DH. Another year older and experienced and now relieved of the defensive burdens of third base, Guerrero may be poised to take a statistical leap in the shortened 2020 season.