That may well mean time at third base for the left-handed hitting Coghlan, but he has no illusions about making the same kind of impact as the 2015 AL MVP.
“Listen, he’s a superstar player,” Coghlan said. “You can’t replace him. I’m not here to replace him, I’m not trying to replace him. I’m just trying to do Chris Coghlan, and know that Chris Coghlan’s good enough to help this team win.”
So who is Chris Coghlan, and what can the Blue Jays expect? The 2009 NL Rookie of the Year has had plenty of success at the MLB level, particularly against right-handed pitching, but he has ‘zero’ statistical goals or expectations for the 2017 season.
Asked to describe his best attributes, he was careful not to mention any numbers.
“Usually you have the back of a card for that,” Coghlan said. “Honestly, man, I think accountability. I think a loving teammate and I think just a gamer, whatever I’ve got to do. That’s what I really pride myself on.”
The Blue Jays started Darwin Barney at third base Friday, their first game since placing Donaldson on the 10-day disabled list (they designated catcher Juan Graterol to create 40-man roster space). With left-handed Orioles starter Wade Miley on the mound, manager John Gibbons opted for the right-handed hitting Barney instead of Coghlan. When Baltimore righty Alec Asher takes the ball Saturday, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Coghlan in the starting lineup given his career .268/.341/.424 batting line against right-handers.
Coghlan brings versatility to the Blue Jays’ roster, having played at least 15 games at second base, third base, left field and right field since the beginning of the 2015 season.
“He can play everywhere,” Gibbons said. “He’ll get a shot at third base.”
Most of Coghlan’s MLB experience has come in left field, the position he played for the 2009 Florida Marlins on his way to a .321 batting average and a Rookie of the Year award. Where’s he most comfortable now?
“In the lineup,” he said. “Honestly it’s a mindset. It doesn’t matter. Really, you’re comfortable being uncomfortable when you’re a guy who plays all over the field.”
The Blue Jays had interest in Coghlan over the winter, and he thought of signing with Toronto before choosing the Phillies’ offer. Either way, he didn’t have much leverage considering he hit free agency after putting together a .188/.290/.318 slash line in 99 games.
He finished the season strong, posting a .779 OPS in 48 games for the Cubs and playing in all three of their playoff series. Still, that wasn’t enough to erase the memory of the .487 OPS he posted in Oakland to start the season.
“There’s no excuses,” he said. “I stunk and it cost me a job this off-season, having to sign a minor-league deal for the two bad months that I had there.”
Minor-league deal or not, he’s back in the big-leagues, ready to contribute in a bench role for a team that would welcome any kind of production it can get.