Blue Jays make room for Michael Saunders, designate Steve Tolleson for assignment


As expected, the Toronto Blue Jays will activate Michael Saunders from the disabled list prior to Saturday’s game against Tampa Bay. However, that requires making room for the outfielder on the active roster and with very few minor league options available to work with, that meant that someone was on the way out.

Steve Tolleson drew the short straw. According to Shi Davidi of Sportsnet, the Blue Jays designated Tolleson for assignment following Friday’s loss to the Rays.

The 31-year-old Tolleson has spent the last two seasons with the Blue Jays and entered 2015 of the heels of a .253/.308/.371 season with a career-high 189 plate appearances. However, with the influx of youth in the Blue Jays locker room and the lack of a true position, Tolleson has been limited to just 16 plate appearances in 2015 and been shifted around the diamond, seeing time in left and right field, along with shortstop and second base.

While that kind of versatility is appreciated, Tolleson is also dragged down by huge splits against left and right-handed pitching. As you can see in the table below, Tolleson mashed opposite handed pitching, but struggles immensely against same-side arms.

By designating Steve Tolleson for assignment, the Blue Jays not only open up a spot on the active roster, but also have an available slot on the 40-man roster as well. Of course, that could give Toronto some flexibility. If Tolleson passes through waivers unclaimed, they could option him to Triple-A Buffalo AND keep him on the 40-man for the sake of a quick call-up. Toronto could also option his without keeping him on the 40-man roster, which will allow the Blue Jays to make subsequent moves as needed without having to go through the DFA process again.

All said, Michael Saunders is expected to rejoin Toronto for game two against Tampa on Saturday. Originally slated to join the team on Friday, the Blue Jays opted to give him an extra game with Dunedin instead of making him face lefty Drew Smyly in his first game back. Saunders used that opportunity to go 2 for 4 with a double and a pair of RBI in his final rehab game.

The Blue Jays are also looking at the possibility of having Jose Bautista available for DH duties on Saturday or Sunday. Bautista has missed the last two games after straining his throwing shoulder against Baltimore last week.

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