The Blue Jays added five pitchers to their 40 man roster earlier this week, but there’s a good chance they’ll need to make more room before Opening Day.
Earlier this week we saw the Blue Jays prioritize protecting their pitching assets before the 40 man roster deadline, which makes perfect sense. For a team with a lot of young assets on offence, building the pitching staff is a fairly obvious priority.
As we move closer to the Rule 5 draft as well as spring training, there’s a very good chance that the Blue Jays will make several more moves to their 40 man roster. Right now the list is maxed out, but with some tempting potential players available in the upcoming draft there’s a good chance we could see some movement sooner than later. The team would also need to make more room if and when they sign free agents.
Right now the most obvious candidate to be removed from the list would be Yangervis Solarte, whose option was not picked up by the team, and is very likely facing a non-tender situation in the coming weeks. Solarte is likely expendable because of the glut of infielders in the Blue Jays’ organization right now, but also because of his disappointing second half to the 2018 season.
He’s not alone though, and there’s a good chance the Blue Jays are going to need more than one spot on the roster anyway.
The second most likely candidate (to me), is Canadian outfielder Dalton Pompey. While I’ve always been a fan of the talented Canuck, he’s struggled with injuries throughout his career including a pretty serious concussion he sustained in the World Baseball Classic while playing for his home country. He was once seen as the future centre fielder in Toronto, but between his injuries and Kevin Pillar‘s emergence with the glove over the past few years, it just hasn’t come to fruition unfortunately.
As pointed out by Keegan Matheson of Baseball Toronto, it’s probably for the best if the two parties go in separate directions this offseason, which will hopefully allow for Pompey to get the fresh start that it looks like he needs. It’s probably fair to say that he had too much pressure put on him as a 21 year old rookie, and the fact that he was a Canadian playing for the only team north of the border didn’t help fan expectations either. According to Matheson, the Blue Jays are hopeful they can trade him sometime this winter. If this is the end of the line for Pompey in Toronto, I personally wish him the best and I’ll be sad to see him go, even if things never really worked out for him with the Jays.
Secondly, I think it’s fair for the Blue Jays to eventually expect Troy Tulowitzki to end up back on the disabled list, although he is working hard to get ready for the 2019 season and hopes to be healthy. Just like last season, the Blue Jays were able to transfer him to the 60 day disabled list, which opened up a spot on the roster for someone else. Chances are the Blue Jays will be able to wait on his roster spot, and give it to a player signed on a MiLB contract if Tulowitzki is unable to suit up to start the season.
Beyond those two, it’s entirely possible the Blue Jays shop some of their other veterans this winter. For example, it looks like the Jays are ready to hand the catching duties over to Danny Jansen and/or Reese McGuire next season, and they still have Luke Maile under contract control as well. Martin has one year and 20 million left on his contact, but without a consistent spot in the lineup it’s possible the Blue Jays would be willing to eat a significant chunk of that money to move him elsewhere. It’s not a guarantee by any means, especially because of the mentorship that Martin could provide the young catchers, but he should still have some value on the trade market if the Blue Jays eat enough of his expensive salary.
Speaking of veterans, it’s also possible that the Blue Jays move on from Kevin Pillar before next season begins, although that’s probably the least likely of the four options. ESPN recently mentioned him as a possible fit in Colorado with the Rockies, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Blue Jays did trade him if they can get an acceptable return. They are not as loaded in the outfield, but with a depth chart that includes Randal Grichuk, Teoscar Hernandez, Billy McKinney, Dwight Smith Jr., and more, they could probably get by without him if they choose.
Last but not least, the Blue Jays could look to shop Justin Smoak in the last year of his current contract as well. However, his trade value may have just fallen through the roof after the Tampa Bay Rays DFA’s C.J. Cron recently, another first baseman with a very similar profile to Smoak, at least on offence.
It’s possible the Blue Jays could be convinced to trade someone else currently on the 40 man roster, but I’m not sure that I see many other candidates, at least not right now. Marcus Stroman has garnered interest, and there’s no doubt that others have as well, but I wouldn’t expect them to sell low on the ‘Stro Show, or anyone else for that matter.
As the offseason and the rebuild in Toronto continue, it’s safe to say that the roster will continue to go through change. Chances are, it’ll come sooner than later.