Blue Jays not getting enough from their first basemen

By: Danny Gallagher

Canadian Baseball Network

If the Toronto Blue Jays were looking to improve upon the lack of offence emanating from their first basemen, they could consider Jesus Montero or Casey Kotchman in Buffalo.

Montero, 26, was a one-time Yankees’ prospect who moved over to the Mariners’ organization. With Seattle in a full season of work in 2012, Montero hit 15 homers and drove in 62 runs. He was released late in spring training last month and was gobbled up by the Jays, who sent him to Buffalo.

Heading into action April 20, Montero led the Bisons with a .319 average with a homer and nine RBI. Kotchman, 33, has plenty of major-league experience going back to 2004. 

So if Chris Colabello doesn't pick up it up a notch and improve upon his slide to start the season, he could be optioned to Buffalo and replaced by Montero or Kotchman. Justin Smoak, the other half of the first-base platoon with Colabello, is also in a bad slump to start the season. He carries a $3.9-million contract and has no options remaining.

It's hard to gauge what the Jays' brain-trust is thinking of as far as Colabello goes. The journeyman was solid last season with a team-high .321 average with 15 homers and 54 RBI but he has been slow out of the gate this season.

Colabello, 32, has one option remaining in his contract, whereby the club can send him to the minors without losing him on waivers. If he is sent down, it puts a damper on his chances of becoming a Super 2 arbitration player next winter. It would be a wake-up call for Colabello, if he was optioned.

Colabello has a year and over 175 days service time and if he spent the entire 2016 season with the Jays, then he would qualify for arbitration with less than the normal three years required in most cases.

If the Jays did send Colabello down, it would be a message to play on his mind that it would be one way for the team to save money next winter. Sending him down would reduce his chances of being an arbitration-eligible player.

On the other hand, the Jays have to consider that Colabello is still a valuable commodity as a bench player and pinch hitter, even if he doesn’t contribute more out of the platoon with Smoak.

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Danny Gallagher

Danny was born in Ted Lindsay's hometown of Renfrew, Ont. but his roots are in nearby Douglas. He played 27 consecutive seasons of top-level amateur baseball in the senior ranks in Ontario, Saskatchewan and Quebec and thrived on organizing events himself, the major one being the highly successful 1983 Canadian senior men's tournament in Sudbury. He began covering the Montreal Expos in 1988 when he joined the Montreal Daily News. Later, he was the Expos beat writer for the Ottawa Sun and Associated Press. He has written four baseball books, including Remembering the Montreal Expos, which he co-authored with Bill Young of Hudson, Que. Gallagher and Young are currently working on a book about the ill-fated 1994 Expos squad. Gallagher can be reached here: dannogallagher@rogers.com