Blue Jays protect McFarland, Dragmire on 40-man roster


The Toronto Blue Jays made some minor adjustments on Wednesday, moving pitchers Brady Dragmire and Blake McFarland to the 40-man roster. With the MLB Rule 5 Draft looming a few weeks down the road at the MLB Winter Meetings, teams have until this Friday (tomorrow) to set their 40-man rosters and protect their chosen players.

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Dwight Smith Jr. seems logical to follow these two onto the 40-man roster, as does Andy Burns. While McFarland makes sense to protect and has been on the back-end of a few Rule 5 conversations, Dragmire is a little more surprising.

Now 22 years old, the 17th Round pick from 2011 has topped out at High-A Dunedin where he struggled to a 5.26 ERA over 63.1 innings in 2015. There’s talent there undoubtedly, but how high is the risk of him being chosen as a Rule 5 pick? The chances seem to rest between slim and non-existent.

To Dragmire’s credit, he took great strides in the second half of his 2015 season and re-established his forward path in the organization. Across 36.2 innings in the second half, the right-hander put up a 2.45 ERA while holding opponents to a .262 average (down from .378 in the first half). His GO/AO ratio also rose to 2.71 in 2015, well above his career average of 2.01. If Dragmire can continue his recent upswing and put balls on the ground, there’s a future there. Maybe just not in 2016.

McFarland has taken the long road, signed as an undrafted free agent out of San Diego State University, but his 2014 and 2015 seasons have been impressive. After performing well at AA New Hampshire late in 2014, he began last season at that level before finally making the AAA jump.

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In his 47.0 innings with the FisherCats this past season, McFarland posted a 1.72 ERA with a 0.89 WHIP and .209 opponent’s batting average. He doesn’t put nearly as many balls on the ground, but posted an 11.2 K/9 this past season, building on his 10.5 mark in 2014. He’s spent most of his minor league career facing younger opponents and lives in the low-90s with his fastball, but there’s an outside chance that McFarland could creep into the bullpen picture at some point in 2015. He’s especially difficult on right-handed hitters.

The Blue Jays have not been as active as the once were in the Rule 5 Draft, where Pat Gillick did some of his best work. Willie Upshaw and George Bell were both Rule 5 finds, along with Kelly Gruber and Manny Lee. Toronto did select Brian Moran under Anthopoulos, but he was immediately dealt to the Angels for international bonus pool money. So while action on that end isn’t expected, it’s safe to assume that Toronto will be protecting another couple of young players with a move to the 40-man shortly.