Blue Jays: Predicting the next tweaks to the 40-man roster

TORONTO, ON - JUNE 29: General manager Ross Atkins of the Toronto Blue Jays speaks to members of the media before the start of MLB game action against the Detroit Tigers at Rogers Centre on June 29, 2018 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - JUNE 29: General manager Ross Atkins of the Toronto Blue Jays speaks to members of the media before the start of MLB game action against the Detroit Tigers at Rogers Centre on June 29, 2018 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) /
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After making Travis Shaw’s contract official, the Blue Jays made room for him by DFA-ing Richard Urena. What tweaks are coming next to the 40-man roster?

Just yesterday, I wrote about how the Blue Jays likely still needed to address the utility-man position on their 26-man roster before Opening Day rolls around, and then they made a move related to the position. Only, instead of adding a piece to the roster, Ross Atkins and the rest of the front office decided to designate Richard Urena for assignment, who would have been the leading in-house candidate for the job.

It is possible that Urena could clear waivers and remain in the Blue Jays’ organization, but it’s far more likely than he’ll get scooped up somewhere else around the league. Regardless, if the Blue Jays wanted to use him as their utility man next season, he’ll have to be added back to the 40-man roster in order to be eligible.

One way or another, the Blue Jays are almost assuredly going to have to add a middle infielder to the mix for next season, and that player is going to need a spot on the 40-man roster as well. The same will go for any bullpen additions that make the team out of Spring Training, or even ones that agree to a MLB contract.

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Even if moving on from Urena came as a bit of a surprise for some of us, the Blue Jays are going to have some other difficult decisions to make with their current group of players. The chances are very slim that he’ll be the last player removed from the current 40-man roster, so let’s have a look at some of the players who could be on the bubble

Breyvic Valera– To be honest, I’m actually quite surprised that the Blue Jays moved on from Urena before Valera, but there could be a good reason for that. Making the decision now with Urena could give the team a chance to clear him through waivers, especially as other teams are feeling a similar pinch to their own controllable groups. It’s also possible that the coaching staff sees something in Valera that I haven’t so far.

Even if that’s the case, it’s going to be tough to keep the 27-year-old by the time the 26-man roster is set at the end of March. If he was a more capable shortstop then it would be more likely, but he’s only played there for a grand total of 27 innings in the big leagues. He does have 186 games there during his MiLB career, but even still, I have a hard time envisioning him as the utility man when camp breaks. Because the Blue Jays already have Brandon Drury and Travis Shaw that are capable of backing up second and third base, Valera seems like he could be the next to go, especially he doesn’t have any minor league options left. Then again, I’ve also written about how I believe Drury could be expendable now that the Blue Jays have Shaw in the fold.

After that, Atkins is probably going to have to make some sort of decision about the future of his outfield picture. We know that Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and Randal Grichuk are going to be full-timers, but the picture is pretty foggy after that. Teoscar Hernandez will likely either return to centre field, or perhaps spend time at DH, but there have been plenty of reports that the Blue Jays would like to improve up the middle.

Where the decision will come will be with who gets the 4th, and maybe 5th spot on the team, depending on how Charlie Montoyo chooses to make up his bench. Because they each have minor league options remaining, you can pretty much put your money down that both Billy McKinney and Jonathan Davis will start their seasons in Buffalo. And because they’re both out of options, I suspect the Blue Jays will do whatever they can to hang on to Derek Fisher and Anthony Alford. That said, if they need the roster spot, don’t be shocked if they look to move an outfielder, especially if they’re bringing another in. If I had to choose someone that I think they would DFA, if it came to that, I regrettably assume it would be Alford.

Beyond those two moves, the next place to look would likely be with the pitching staff, although I’m sure the front office would rather add than subtract from that area. That said, if there are improvements to be had then I’m sure it’ll be considered, and that could land hurlers like Jordan Romano, or maybe even Julian Merryweather on the chopping block. I don’t think the Blue Jays want to let go of either of those two, but have a look at their current stockpile of pitchers and tell me who else would go ahead of them.

Next. Shaw passes physical, officially signs with the Blue Jays. dark

One way or another, the Blue Jays are going to have to create more roster space if they want to continue to improve the team in advance of next season. Whether it means they have to DFA Valera, Alford, or make a trade or two, it’s a pretty safe bet that the roster tinkering isn’t over just yet. With just under two months before pitchers and catchers start to report to Dunedin, it could be a fluid situation for a while yet.

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