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Hours before Robbie Ray left for the west coast, the Toronto Blue Jays softened the blow by signing free agent starter Kevin Gausman, per reports.

Marcus Semien has already left for his own AL West pastures, but could Toronto pry a top free agent to replace him, too?

Toronto's management has "held some talks" with free agent Javier Báez, Sportsnet's Shi Davidi reported Monday, discussing the possibility of a super-utility role. A two-time All-Star, Báez is one of the top infielders on the open market, and he's a name floating around the Blue Jays since the organization extended his brother-in-law, José Berríos, to a lengthy extension earlier this winter. 

As top infield names come off the board, the former Met and Cub could be next. So, where would Báez fit on the 2022 Blue Jays?

The most natural Toronto fit for Báez would be as a plug-and-play replacement for the departed Semien at second base. Baez has been an elite defender at shortstop for the past few seasons and owns positive UZR and DRS at second base in 2141 career innings. Like Semien, he could bring his elite defense to a new position and occasionally spell Bo Bichette at short. Perhaps Baéz could shift over to third base, where he has 65 games of starting experience across five MLB seasons. Per Baseball Savant's outs above average, Báez has been a clear positive defender at the hot corner despite brief playing time, and he's flashed a strong arm during his time at short.

Or maybe, as Davidi suggests, the most effective way to maximize Baéz is a combination of the two. A super-utility role keeping Báez in the lineup every day, mainly at second and third, while allowing Cavan Biggio and Santiago Espinal to maximize platoon advantages could improve Toronto's depth, lineup construction, and makeup on both sides of the ball.

Where there's no wondering with Báez is the offensive upside. The former Chicago Cub has had his downs at the plate, posting a .599 OPS in 2020, but his highs are MVP level. In 2018, the now-28-year-old came second in National League MVP voting, rocking an .881 OPS and leading the league with 11 RBI. He brings lots of strikeouts, but he showed improved plate vision during his time with the Mets in 2021, and has been an elite offensive weapon despite the swing-and-miss. The profiles are different, but the offensive ceiling of Marcus Semien is certainly within reach.

The fit is there if Toronto is willing to get creative, but as with almost all free agents, it'll come down to price. The Blue Jays have already committed a reported $121 million in free agency this year, and have another rotation spot likely to address. Is there room in the budget for Báez-sized splash?

Báez could become the latest Puerto Rican influence on the Blue Jays, joining his workout partner and brother-in-law Berríos, manager Charlie Montoyo, and coach Luis Rivera. More importantly, he could fill one of the positional needs for the Blue Jays with the upside they lost in Semien—or maybe he could fill them all.

H/T Shi Davidi, Mark Feinsand