Blue Jays: What we should learn from Monday’s non-tender deadline

TORONTO, ON - JULY 23: Luke Maile #21 of the Toronto Blue Jays hits a foul ball in the fifth inning during a MLB game against the Cleveland Indians at Rogers Centre on July 23, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - JULY 23: Luke Maile #21 of the Toronto Blue Jays hits a foul ball in the fifth inning during a MLB game against the Cleveland Indians at Rogers Centre on July 23, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /

The Blue Jays have some decisions to make by Monday night, and it should tell us a bit about their plans for the remainder of the off-season.

Things have been pretty slow lately for the Blue Jays when it comes to off-season activity, but there are a handful of decisions that will need to be made by no later than 8pm EST this evening.

Tonight represents the deadline for teams to non-tender their arbitration eligible players, or decide if they prefer to head to arbitration instead. For someone like Ken Giles the decision is easy, but for other more fringe-type players on the 40-man roster, it could be a notable day in their careers.

We still don’t know a whole lot about what the Blue Jays plan on accomplishing this off-season, other than the front office’s statement about being more aggressive to improve the roster. We haven’t really witnessed that a whole lot yet, and as a result there are a handful of players currently on the 40-man roster that may not be by the time Opening Day rolls around. And while there are no guarantees, some of the decisions that Ross Atkins and company make by Monday’s deadline could give us a greater indication of the off-season plans.

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Take Luke Maile for instance, who is under team control for three more seasons and is slated to make roughly $800,000 next season. If the Blue Jays decide to tender him a contract, that could mean that they are serious about trading one of Danny Jansen or Reese McGuire in order to upgrade another position. In a more likely scenario, don’t be surprised if the Blue Jays decide to non-tender Maile and roll with their young duo behind the plate next year. If they only intend to use Maile as Triple-A depth, they can likely save a couple hundred thousand and get someone else. That sounds like chump change (and it is), but don’t be surprised if the veteran catcher is looking for an opportunity elsewhere because of it.

Speaking of minimal savings, the Blue Jays seem to still be on the fence about whether or not to tender a contract to Derek Law for the 2020 campaign. To be fair, Law’s numbers weren’t very pretty last year, but the Blue Jays don’t exactly have a treasure trove of MLB pitchers at the ready. He’s projected to make around 1.3 million next season, and Atkins and company may decide to spend that money in another way. If they do, hopefully it means they plan on adding a few solid arms to the bullpen before the season is over.

There are a also a few decision to be made with regards to the infield depth chart. Frankly, I’m surprised that the Jays elected to designated Justin Shafer for assignment instead of choosing Breyvic Valera, but maybe they see something in him that I’m not picking up on. My guess is he’ll be cut loose in favour of the available roster spot at some point anyway, especially with other teams having to make non-tender decisions by tomorrow as well, and the free agent pool growing with more low-salaried players.

I still won’t believe Brandon Drury is guaranteed a job next season until he’s tendered a contract, so I guess we’ll see what tomorrow night brings. He’s projected to make 2.5 million next season, and I honestly believe that if he gets it, it’s only because the Blue Jays don’t feel 100% comfortable with either Vladimir Guerrero Jr. at the hot corner, or even Rowdy Tellez at first base as a starter. If Drury is cut loose (which I don’t think will happen), it has to mean that the Blue Jays plan on adding another first base-type, and that they may experiment a little at third with guys like Cavan Biggio, or even Santiago Espinal.

As for the glut of outfielders currently in the mix, I would be surprised if any of Anthony Alford, Derek Fisher, or even Jonathan Davis were non-tendered tomorrow night. They may not all be on the 40-man roster by the start of next season, but until there’s a need to make room, I’m guessing that the front office will keep their options open in the outfield.

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There could be a few surprises tomorrow night, but chances are the players I’ve mentioned above will be on the ones of the bubble tomorrow. We’ll see what Atkins and company decide, and what that might tell us about what’s to come over the next few months.