A week or so ago it felt like the Blue Jays were down a handful of decisions to fill out their 25 man roster. Now, there are a lot of variables up in the air.
Last week I wrote an article talking about how the Blue Jays had just a few decisions left to make, mostly in their bullpen, and whether or not they are going to keep Elvis Luciano, or return him to the Kansas City Royals because of the rules involved in the Rule 5 draft. Fast forward to today, and there are a lot of questions that are in need of an answer.
The biggest changing variable has been the health of several players who were expected to make the roster. John Axford was diagnosed with an elbow injury and has since been released, and Ryan Tepera is still being evaluated, with his timetable for return very much up in the air right now. Bud Norris and Ryan Borucki both experienced soreness this week as well, but for now the club is cautiously optimistic on that pair. However, Dalton Pompey was also expected to challenge for the 25th spot on the roster, and he’s now been diagnosed with a concussion.
The rash of injuries have changed the dynamic of both the 25 man and 40 man roster. The Blue Jays no longer have to worry about adding Axford to the 40 man, and depending on the severity of both Pompey and Tepera’s injuries, it’s possible the Blue Jays could have even more room, albeit for a disappointing reason.
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There are also roster uncertainties around the league that could affect the Blue Jays, especially if they decide to make a late-spring dive into the trade market. We heard rumours about potential interest in veteran outfielder Kevin Pillar earlier this winter, and there were renewed rumblings linking him to the Giants on Saturday. The Cubs are also reportedly looking for some help in centre field as well according to MLBtraderumors.com, and you never know if there could be a fit between the two clubs there as well.
It wouldn’t surprise me if there were a few phone calls made to the Blue Jays about one or both of Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez either. There was rumoured interest in both earlier this winter as well, especially Stroman, and with a strong and healthy spring from both pitchers it’s possible that starter needy teams are more comfortable dealing for them now, and might be more willing to deal from their own pile of assets. We learned that the Astros were one of the teams interested in Stroman earlier this offseason, and they could have the minor league assets to get a trade done if talks got serious.
In addition to having possible pieces to sell, the Blue Jays are likely on the look out for valuable players that may or may not make their current clubs as well. Every team around the league will have to round out their 25 man rosters, and that also means that a few new players will become available once those decisions are made.
There is no guarantee that anyone will become available that fits with their rebuild for the short or long term, but it’s also a time when teams are more willing to deal, especially once they have figured out more about the current state of their own club. In Toronto, Pompey could have been that type of piece before getting injured. If he didn’t make the team, and out of minor league options, chances are the Blue Jays would have looked to trade him rather than risk losing him for nothing.
So while it’s usually a time when the roster is more or less figured out, the Blue Jays suddenly have a lot of questions to answer, and a lot of potential to shake things up again before the season gets underway.