So somewhere along the line, José Bautista got it into his head that he would prefer to play in right field. (Don't ask us to come up with the quote. It's been out there so long that we just assume that it's true.)
We get why JoBau might want to take this approach. Ladies love baserunner kills, but throw a guy out from across the diamond, and you elicit barely a yawn. Also, there are far fewer screaming-take-your-dome-clean-off-your-shoulders line drives that come hurtling themselves hungrily at your flesh when you're in the outfield.
Unfortunately, this particular stance isn't necessarily the one that makes the most sense for the Blue Jays. There are plenty of warm bodies that you can stick out in the outfield on any given day, but only so many guys who can hold their own at third. If Bautista would accede happily to life on the infield, sharing jokes and smiles and hip bumps with Yunel, then we could wrap up this discussion and go get ourselves some aging slugging non-fielder (other than Juan Rivera) and toss them in right or left or wherever.
But seeing as how the Jays aren't likely to do anything to upset or turn off Bautista until after they sign off on their longer-term matrimony, it leaves us without an enviable option at third for now.1
Nature abhors a vacuum, though, so we've spent the past weekend observing the efforts of some to fill the third base void. Here's the options that we've seen, for better or worse.
Kevin Kouzmanoff: KK is probably off the table now that Chone Figgins has precluded any further discussion on getting traded to Oakland. And to think that we'd just started to come around on him, in spite of the fact that he hasn't posted an OPS above .732 in the past three seasons. (He's got home/road splits that look promising, and his defense seems to carry much of the weight of his 2.7/2.7/2.9 fWAR over the past three years.) A long shot to think that AA can get him, though the A's seem determined to replace him.
Eric Chavez: On a minor league deal? Why not? For some of the cushion change in Bob McCown's green room, you sign a guy who was an elite player at one point (admittedly, five years ago) and who might have something in the tank and something to prove. If he's healthy, he could be a low-risk/high-reward pick up. If not...well, what's the down side?
Aaron Hill: You create one hole by filling another, though there may be an argument that you'd be moving Hill in a year anyways to make room for Adeiny Hechavarria. (Unless it's Yunel that moves to third, in which case, you slide the tiles in your slide puzzle the other way around.)
John McDonald: In limited playing time, Johnny Mac managed a .727 OPS last season. Which, we'd point out, is better than Kouzmanoff's OPS in 2010 and 2009. Oddly, though, the PMoD has put up a negative UZR/150 at third over his career (-7.9). But if you're sliding Hill over, you get McDonald's career 18.9 UZR/150 at second over Hill's 4.8.
Edwin Encarnacion: He's still on the roster. He still has a higher career OPS than Aaron Hill. And his UZR/150 last season at 3B was -2.3, which is a vast improvement over seasons past. Playing EE in the field means that the Jays would have more flexibility with their DH spot. We could go on attempting to make the case for Edwin, though we're reasonably sure that all you'll read from this point on would look like "E5 E5 E5 E5E5 E5E5 E5E5 E5E5 E5E5 E5E5 E5E5 E5E5 E5E5 E5E5 E5E5 E5E5 E5".
1. You have no idea how many different ways we tried to work a marriage analogy into this paragraph. "Put a ring on it" was tossed around. We conjugated the verb "to betroth" for 20 minutes, until we realized that it only connotes getting engaged and not buying the whole cow. "Down the aisle" was used. Rote "no sex after marriage" jokes were tried on for size. We gave up. This is the best we could do.