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Blue Jays: A current look at the roster battle in the outfield

BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 18: The Toronto Blue Jays celebrate after a 6-4 victory against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 18, 2018 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 18: The Toronto Blue Jays celebrate after a 6-4 victory against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 18, 2018 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images) /
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As the 2019 season begins, the Toronto Blue Jays will most likely be carrying four outfielders on the major league roster. Who makes the final roster, and what will happen to the players who do not make the team?

Both Randal Grichuk and Kevin Pillar can rest easy knowing they will be packing their bags for Toronto when spring training ends. This comes as a surprise to nobody, as both players are going to be key contributors to the 2019 season. The next two outfielders on the roster is where this scenario becomes complicated.

Currently in Dunedin, there are five players competing for two spots left on the 25 man roster for the left field and a reserve bench position. Teoscar Hernandez and Billy McKinney split left field duties last year near the end of the 2018 campaign, and this could be the likely scenario heading into this season as well.

Even though he has more experience against professional pitching staffs, Hernandez has not proven that he is a full-time outfielder at the major league level. Last year he was a defensive liability and had a tendency to swing at bad pitches, which was evident with his 163 strikeouts while playing in 134 games. He committed eight errors and still looks uncomfortable this spring in left field. While I would not consider him a definite lock to make the team, he does have a considerable edge over his counterparts.

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Hernandez sets himself apart his left handed competitor because McKinney has never stayed on a team long enough to prove he deserves big league at bats. While he did hit a respectful .251 (across two teams) last season, he predominantly played against right handed pitchers and just does not have the experience when compared to Hernandez. This could lead to his demotion to AAA where he will receive full time reps in the outfield. If Hernandez comes out of the gate slow, McKinney could be riding the bus back up North fairly quickly.

Jonathan Davis is the most likely candidate to start the season in the minors, as he still has a lot of room to grow and develop before becoming a major league outfielder. Pretty unanimous decision.

This leaves just Anthony Alford and Dalton Pompey left; and where the situation really becomes complicated.

Pompey is out of minor league options, and if he does not make the opening day roster, he will be designated for assignment and most likely exposed to the waiver wire. If this occurs, I could see a number of teams taking a flyer on him and the Blue Jays would lose a valuable asset. There is the possibility that Jays management could trade him for prospects or international slot money, which would surely indicate that Alford is the long term investment for the team moving forward.

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While both players are doing well this spring, Alford is evidently outperforming Pompey. He has played in more spring games, and beats Pompey when it comes to all the major batting statistics this spring. This competition may have to force the Blue Jays management to make a tough roster decision before first pitch on March 28. If Alford makes the team out of spring training, it may be the last we see of Dalton Pompey in a Blue Jays uniform.

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