The Toronto Blue Jays season came to an end in the ALCS for the second straight year. They have firmly established themselves as a powerhouse in the American League, but enter the offseason with many question marks. The clear focus is on what to do with impending free agents, and franchise faces, Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion. It seems the fans are ready to let Bautista move on, but would break the bank to keep ‘Edwing’ north of the border.
Ezequiel Carrera: Toronto Blue Jays Unsung Hero
One player that has gotten lost in the shuffle is Ezequiel Carrera. Although not a free agent, his postseason play put the team on notice that he’s deserving of a shot at a bigger role on the 2017 roster. He batted .303 in the postseason and took his game to the next level at the most opportune time. Although a few weeks of great play does not guarantee an everyday outfield job, he’s earned the chance to prove himself in Spring Training.
The Origin Story
He was born June 11, 1987 in Venezuela and made his MLB debut in May 2011. He started his career with the Cleveland Indians, playing in 118 games. After a brief stint with the Detroit Tigers, he joined the Blue Jays for the 2015 season and, in his two seasons with Toronto, has played in 201 games.
He played well down the stretch, batting .359 in September with a couple home runs and five RBI. He brings a speed element to the organisation that few players on the current roster do. His career numbers certainly do not jump off the page (.255 with 11 home runs and 77 RBI), but the team is already riddled with power bats. What they need is a guy who can run the bases well, move runners, and bunt. Carrera demonstrated the ability to do all of those things, and depending on what Mark Shapiro does in the off season, he should be fighting for a left or right field job in March.
— Ben Nicholson-Smith (@bnicholsonsmith) October 19, 2016
Carrera’s New Role
It is clear that Carrera made an impact on his team. He’s not flashy or flamboyant; he’s just a player trying to help his team win. This is the first offseason in which he is arbitration eligible and he will likely look for a slight pay increase. He signed a one year, $521,800 contract before this season. Thanks to his postseason play and ability to step up when regulars were on the DL, he may be looking for a figure in the $750,000 range. He is 29 years old, and that may hold him back slightly, as the Blue Jays will not want to overpay for six weeks of stellar play.
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) October 20, 2016
Josh Donaldson, Troy Tulowitzki, and Russell Martin are all capable of hitting 20 or more home runs, and they will supply the power in 2017. Carrera will have to continue proving the critics wrong, and use his strengths to help Toronto reach the postseason for a third straight year. Is he a prototypical Blue Jays outfielder? Probably not. He’s not going to hit 30 home runs and drive in 100 runs, but contending teams need more than one ingredient to make a winning recipe. He’s earned a shot at an everyday role, not a guaranteed spot. Spring Training will reveal if the last six weeks were a flash in the pan or something Carrera will build on.