The Blue Jays had to make a couple of decisions with regards to their 40-man roster yesterday, and chances are there’s more to come this off-season.
With the Rule 5 draft approaching, the Blue Jays elected to make some changes to their 40-man roster to protect a couple of players that could have been exposed. Yesterday they added both IF/OF Santiago Espinal and RHP Thomas Hatch to the 40-man, while removing Tim Mayza and assigning him to Triple-A, and also designating Justin Shafer for assignment.
The latter move came as a bit of a surprise to yours truly, but the reality is the Blue Jays had a tough decision to make and there’s a good chance it won’t be the last one.
By making those moves Wednesday, the Blue Jays now have a full 40-man roster, which makes sense ahead of that Rule 5 draft. However, it also means that someone will need to be removed if the Blue Jays intend on adding through free agency or via the trade route, so there’s a good chance that Shafer won’t be the last one designated for assignment.
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Ideally, the Blue Jays will be able to create some space by trading a few of the guys on their 40-man roster. I don’t know that they’ll keep all three of Danny Jansen, Reese McGuire, and Luke Maile, so don’t be surprised if even a smaller trade of Maile created one spot (although that could just go to another catcher for depth).
More specifically on the trade front, the Blue Jays are going to have to make some decisions when it comes to their outfield picture, and that’s before they add to it, as they’re reportedly trying to do. If they do find a centre fielder to take over, chances are that means one or more of Teoscar Hernandez, Derek Fisher, Anthony Alford, Billy McKinney, and/or Jonathan Davis could be on the move. With Fisher and Alford both being out of minor league options, it feels like something’s gotta give there. And of course, it’s also possible the Blue Jays trade Ken Giles this winter, as they nearly did this past July.
So at best we’re looking at 2-3 spots being opened up there, and chances are that’s not going to be enough. Ross Atkins and company likely want to sign a few guys to smaller MiLB deals with an invite to camp as well, and will want the ability for them to make the team if they impress enough.
Taking a look at the current 40-man roster, two names stick out to me right away. Breyvic Valera was someone I expected to be removed on Wednesday when Espinal and Hatch were added, and I suspect that he’ll be the next man up on the chopping block, although I could be wrong. The same goes for fellow infielder Richard Urena, who the Blue Jays could view as more expendable now that Espinal has been added.
It’s also possible the Blue Jays create some room by removing a pitcher or two from their stables, although that’s usually a strategy that’s reserved for later on. The list of possible fringe arms (purely my own speculation) could include guys like Sean Reid-Foley, Jason Adam, Jordan Romano, or maybe Yennsy Diaz, although it’s really hard to say how the Blue Jays evaluate their pitching assets at this point.
What we do know is that there’s a good chance that they’ll have to remove a few more players before all is said and done, and if that space isn’t created through a trade then I suspect that Valera and Urena could be the next to go. It’ll be a shame to have to designate anyone else for assignment, just as it was with Shafer, but having too many players you want to protect isn’t exactly a bad thing.