As the Blue Jays cruised to a series-opening win over the New York Yankees, an otherwise unspectacular play sent my mind back to the offseason. A Yankees pop-up drifted into the shallow foul territory between home plate and third, but Russell Martin and Josh Donaldson stood back as David Price handled the business himself. On the simplest play, I was struck with the blunt fact that these three players wear a Blue Jays jersey. You need to be pinched every now and then.
The Blue Jays have undergone a great deal of change since this time last year, moreso than almost any roster in baseball. I was amazed to see how much change they’ve undergone just during this season, though. Check out this lineup from Opening Day in New York.
Let’s start with what we can’t see here: the starting rotation. Opening Day starter Drew Hutchison has now lost his spot to a bullpen demotion, Aaron Sanchez has moved into a setup role and Daniel Norris was shipped to Detroit in the David Price deal. Only R.A. Dickey and Mark Buehrle remain in their original roles from the opening day roster.
To the bullpen, my old friend Todd Redmond had some brief moments before ultimately ending up in AAA Buffalo. And how about Colt Hynes! The lefty managed just 3.0 MLB innings this season before dropping off the roster, while rookie Miguel Castro was lost in the Troy Tulowitzki deal after struggling through an injury in the minors.
Marco Estrada, after a quick stop in the ‘pen, eventually moved into the starting rotation. From the bullpen and five starters, that’s just six players who still remain in roughly the same role as they did on Opening Day. And we’re using the term “role” very loosely in the bullpen.
From the top of the order, swap out Jose Reyes at the trade deadline and take notice of Dalton Pompey playing in centre field with Kevin Pillar in left. Pompey has yet to return to his original role while rookie second baseman Devon Travis is done for the season. Enter Ryan Goins, Cliff Pennington and Munenori Kawasaki, none of whom are on the April 6th roster. Instead, Danny Valencia and Steven Tolleson joined Justin Smoak, the only survivor, on the bench. Chris Colabello, of course, was forced to start his season in AAA.
Calling it eight positional players who remain in the same role they began the season with, that’s approximately 14-of-25. It’s amazing to consider that 10-to-11 of the Blue Jays playoff roster inclusions will be players that have joined the MLB roster at some point since the beginning of the season.
Alex Anthopoulos deserves a great deal of credit for the headline moves he’s made this season, but also for the transactions that have filled the bottom of the 25-man. Take this as a lesson, too, because in baseball, things are rarely as they seem. Not for long, at least.