A look ahead to the Blue Jays’ opening day roster
While the opening day roster has a nice ring to it and it’s fun to discuss and predict, it’s not set in stone for any length of time. Active rosters will usually change within days of the first regular season game. Injuries, waivers and call ups will change the landscape fairly quickly.
So, it’s not worth obsessing over but it is interesting to look at and see how the moving parts effect changes down the organizational depth chart. In the coming days, we’ll follow up this piece with predictions for each level of the organization (down to rookie Bluefield)
Predicted opening day roster hitters (in rough order from no-brainer to question marks):
RF: Jose Bautista
SS: Troy Tulowitzki
CF: Kevin Pillar
1B Justin Smoak — He should probably be facing competition for his spot but he isn’t
IF Darwin Barney — Goins would have to astonish and Barney to deeply disappoint or get injured for there to be any change here
3B Josh Donaldson (assume ready for opener) Seems to be on schedule recovering from his strain
IF/OF Steve Pearce — (assume ready for opener) Already DHing games. On target to be ready defensively by opening day
LF: Melvin Upton — see below
OF Ezequiel Carrera — Melvin and Zeke face competition from Dalton Pompey and, to a lesser extent, Darrell Ceciliani, for the left field job or 4th outfield but Carrera and Upton look to have inside track
2B: Devon Travis — (assume ready for opener) Hasn’t appeared in any spring games but still has plenty of time. If he’s ready to go, that means the Blue Jays have a difficult decision with the out-of-options Ryan Goins. One would think he’d be snapped up quickly on waivers.
If the Jays wanted to get creative and really wanted to retain Goins, they could go with a six man bullpen briefly and survey the situation again a few days into the season. This would likely mean exposing both Mike Bolsinger and Bo Schultz to waivers. But Goins has, arguably, more value than those two combined. They might consider it better to lose a fringe reliever than a stellar defender.
SP J.A Happ
RP Jason Grilli
RP J.P Howell
RP Joe Smith
RP Joe Biagini — Still some talk of stretching him. There’s merit to the idea but in the end, I think they’ll opt to keep him in the ‘pen
RP Mat Latos — There are about eight legitimate contenders for the final two bullpen spots. Schultz and Bolsinger have an automatic leg up being out of options. Whereas Aaron Loup, Ryan Tepera, etc, with option years available seem destined to remain in the minors. Latos is on a MiLB deal but has opt out dates which function as deadlines similar to those out of options. He’d likely opt out rather than accept minor league assignment. Latos fills a similar role to Bolsinger and has been doing far better so far. I have Latos winning the competition.
RP Bo Schultz — The final spot for me is between the two relievers out of options. Since Bolsinger and Latos would be fairly redundant, and Schultz has the high 90s velocity, I’m projecting Schultz to win this battle and Bolsinger be exposed to waivers.
DL: Glenn Sparkman, Gavin Floyd (Hypothetical, there will be more injuries. I picked Floyd since it’s not unfamiliar territory for him and it helps free up the huge logjam of MLB depth relievers the Blue Jays have compiled. [If Floyd does actually get injured, I’ll feel quite terrible!])
Lost to Waivers: Mike Bolsinger, Ryan Goins. Bolsinger has a better shot of passing through waivers than Goins. If Travis is ready to go, I fear it may the end of Goins’ tenure in Toronto.
AAA roster predictions tomorrow!