Vladimir Guerrero Jr. has every intention of playing third base in 2021, per Emily Sadler of Sportsnet.ca. Guerrero understands why the move was made, but the decision to move Vlad Jr. to first was in part to protect him from a knee injury that contributed to his struggles at the hot corner in 2018. With the injury behind him, Guerrero apparently has some newfound fervor to turn himself into a viable option at third. Vlad’s defensive marks at first in 2020 were similar to his DRS and UZR at third base in 2019, which is to say they weren’t great (-4 DRS, -13.8 UZR/150). To his credit, Vlad took responsibility for letting himself fall out of shape during the pandemic shutdown.
If Guerrero succeeds, the Blue Jays could broaden their free agent search to include a full-time first baseman or second baseman. Cavan Biggio could move to first base full-time, leaving Toronto to explore pacts with Kolten Wong, DJ LeMahieu, or Cesar Hernandez, suggests Shi Davidi of sportsnet.ca. Of course, that probably presumes not only that the Jays are comfortable with Vlad at third, but that they are comfortable committing to him there for a couple of seasons. They have the designated hitter to play with as well, and Biggio’s versatility serves as a safety net of sorts, but it’s still worth a consideration. Travis Shaw is the incumbent at third, but he’s not likely to return as the full-time starter (.239/.306/.411 in 2020).
Timing might be an even bigger factor than Guerrero’s progress at the third for Toronto, depending on how quickly the hot stove shapes up. There are a number of high-profile third baseman available via trade should the Jays choose to go that route. This year’s platinum glove winner Nolan Arenado could theoretically be available via trade from the Rockies, as is Kris Bryant of the Cubs. Bryant can move around the diamond a bit as well, so even a star acquisition at third doesn’t preclude manager Charlie Montoyo from utilizing Vlad at both infield corners. Beyond LeMahieu, World Series champ Justin Turner is probably the best option at third base, though we here at MLBTR predict Turner to return the Dodgers.