Blue Jays reveal 25-man roster, Opening Day starter

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The Toronto Blue Jays unveil their 25-man roster and Opening Day starter for the 2015 season, including six rookies and an 8-man bullpen.


All of the signings and all of the work in Spring Training finally came to a culmination on Tuesday, when the Toronto Blue Jays officially revealed their 25-man roster for Opening Day. Now while this particular incarnation is by no means set in stone for the entirety of the regular season, it is nonetheless filled with some surprises.

Of course, not all the players were surprises, as you just can’t leave some of these guys off the roster.

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Catchers
Russell Martin
Dioner Navarro

First Base/DH
Edwin Encarnacion
Justin Smoak

Second Base
Devon Travis

Shortstop
Jose Reyes

Third Base
Josh Donaldson

Outfield
Kevin Pillar
Dalton Pompey
Jose Bautista

Bench
Steve Tolleson
Danny Valencia

Starting Rotation
R.A. Dickey
Mark Buehrle
Drew Hutchison
Aaron Sanchez
Daniel Norris

Bullpen
Brett Cecil
Aaron Loup
Miguel Castro
Roberto Osuna
Todd Redmond
Liam Hendriks
Colt Hynes
Marco Estrada

First and foremost, the decision to keep Steve Tolleson on the roster is a bit interesting. Barry Davis of Sportsnet was the first to confirm that Tolleson would be retained as the utility-infielder, but the going convention is that Tolleson’s stay with Toronto is likely only temporary. He was kept more for his ability to back-up not only around the infield, but to also act as a potential fourth outfielder. Once Michael Saunders is ready to rejoin the team in mid-April, the thought is that Tolleson will be designated for assignment as part of a double-move. Ryan Goins, who will be optioned to Buffalo to start the season, will be recalled at that time to become the back-up infielder (this has not been confirmed yet, but is almost set in stone).

In order to bring Goins up at the same time, the Blue Jays will also need to make a secondary transaction. Nobody likes when the Blue Jays carry an 8-man bullpen, and one of either Todd Redmond or Liam Hendriks will likely be cast out to waivers to make room for Goins. The early money would be on Hendriks, as he’s bounced around the waiver wire quite a bit over the last several seasons?

So why carry him to start the season?

Well, it’s actually simple. Hendriks has thrown the ball well this spring (3.52 ERA, 10.6 K/9) and he lacks minor league options. By exposing him to waivers now, while teams are still making their 25-man roster decisions, the likelihood that he is claimed is much higher. By waiting a few weeks, the Blue Jays stand a better chance of sneaking both Hendriks and Tolleson through waivers and stashing them in Buffalo for future needs.

Of course, to make this all happen, the Blue Jays need to make a few corresponding roster moves. Saunders will need to be put on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive a few days. Additionally, with only one open slot on the 40-man roster, Marcus Stroman will be placed on the 60-day DL, which will open up a spot for one of Miguel Castro, Roberto Osuna, or Devon Travis, all of whom are not currently on the 40-man roster. The Blue Jays will also have to waive one other player, likely one of either Preston Guilmet, Matt West, Ryan Tepera, Bo Schultz, or Juan Pablo Oramas


Also getting confirmed on Tuesday was the fact that Drew Hutchison will be the Opening Day starter on Monday when the Blue Jays take on the Yankees in New York. This is likely an honor that would have gone to Marcus Stroman, had he not torn his ACL this spring, but regardless, it is the smart baseball decision and helps avoid the use of Mark Buehrle in Yankee Stadium (or even against the Yankees for that matter).

The Blue Jays made it official this morning when the team announced the move via Twitter.

Hutchison is coming off a decent sophomore season in which he went 11-13 for the Blue Jays, while leading the team with 184 strike-outs and posted a 4.48 ERA and a 3.85 FIP. He has been outstanding this spring, allowing just 3 runs in 15 innings of work, walking four and striking out 11 in the process.


Finally, the confirmation that Gibbons hinted was coming, and was confirmed this morning. Josh Thole was optioned to Triple-A Buffalo to start the season. The move was confirmed by Brendan Kennedy of the Toronto Star this morning.

Thole has conditional options available, which means that the Blue Jays must pass him through waivers in order to assign him to the minors. However, if a team claims him, Toronto has the right of refusal and could pull him back if they desire. More often than not, teams will not claim a player on conditional waivers unless they intend to complete a trade for said player. Being that we’re talking about Josh Thole here, it’s fairly safe to say the Blue Jays should be okay here.

Joining Thole on the trip to Minor League camp will be Dayan Viciedo, Jeff Francis, Caleb Gindl, and Jonathan Diaz, all of whom were in camp on minor league contracts and were reassigned to Buffalo this morning per Shi Davidi of Sportsnet. Additionally, Viciedo has opted out of his contract and chosen free agency rather than report to Buffalo per Davidi.

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