MLB News·Analysis

Chris Colabello eligible to return to Toronto Blue Jays

Chris Colabello was one of the feel-good stories in baseball last season. A year later, he's become the centre of attention for all the wrong reasons.

First baseman's 80-game suspension ends on July 23rd

The Toronto Blue Jays have a decision to make once Chris Colabello is eligible to return from his 80-game suspension on July 23. (Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

Chris Colabello was one of the feel-good stories in baseball last season. A year later, he's become the centre of attention for all the wrong reasons.

The career journeyman finally found a home with the Toronto Blue Jays after seven seasons of independent minor league baseball and was the team's 2016 opening day first baseman.

But just 10 games into this season, Colabello was issued an 80-game suspension for testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs.

That suspension is almost up and the 32-year-old will be eligible to return on July 23.

The question is will the Jays bring him back?

Here's a look at the pros and cons of Colabello's return to the big leagues:

PROS

An all-around contributor

Colabello was a key contributor on an already loaded Jays offence, which makes what he accomplished last season even more impressive.

The Framingham, Mass., native led the team with a .321 batting average and had 15 home runs and 54 RBI in 101 games played.

He was also among the team's top five in hits, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage.

Defensively, Colabello committed three errors in 46 starts in the outfield, but appeared to find his comfort zone at first base where he had just one error in 34 games.

Platoon?

Justin Smoak has been the everyday first baseman in Colabello's absence. (Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)

Should Colabello return, he'll likely serve as the back-up to first baseman Justin Smoak. The opportunity for a platoon may exist with Colabello's numbers against left-handed pitching. He hit .308 with seven home runs and 16 RBI's in 47 games against southpaws last season.

CONS

Ineligible for post-season

According to MLB rules, players who are suspended during the regular season for using performance-enhancing drugs are ineligible to compete during any round of the post-season.

Bringing Colabello back could mean taking the roster spot of another player who could play a vital role in the post-season.

Defence wins championships

With the Jays' offence rolling once again, the club may opt for more defence rather than add to their surplus offence. While Colabello has provided the team with some serviceable defensive play at first, Smoak is superior defensively.

Smoak has committed just two errors in 74 games and his .997 fielding percentage is good for third among American League first baseman.

Options

Colabello still has minor league options available, which means Jays can keep him on the farm and will be able to call him up when needed.

The injury bug has kept the Jays from having their full lineup at Gibbons' disposal and a power-hitting bat like Colabello provides some insurance should Smoak or Edwin Encarncion suffer an injury.

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