Blue Jays: Why Julian Merryweather should be safe on the 40-man roster

DUNEDIN, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 22: Julian Merryweather #59 of the Toronto Blue Jays poses for a portrait during photo day at Dunedin Stadium on February 22, 2019 in Dunedin, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
DUNEDIN, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 22: Julian Merryweather #59 of the Toronto Blue Jays poses for a portrait during photo day at Dunedin Stadium on February 22, 2019 in Dunedin, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) /
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The Blue Jays will have some decision to make with their 40-man roster in the coming weeks, but Julian Merryweather’s spot is likely going to be a safe one.

When the Blue Jays signed Rafael Dolis to a one-year deal on Saturday, two things entered my mind right away. First, and with the help of social media, I got excited about the under-the-radar addition the bullpen, which is an area of team need. But secondly, I wondered which player would come off of the 40-man roster in order to make room for Dolis.

It’s a question we’ve examined here a few times at Jays Journal, and one that Ross Atkins and the rest of the front office are going to have to deal with a few times before Opening Day in 2020. The names that immediately come to mind as candidates to be taken off the 40-man roster could include Breyvic Valera, Jonathan Davis, Anthony Alford, or possibly several others. However, one name that will likely be safe regardless of what the Blue Jays do in the next month or two is Julian Merryweather, a right-hander who has barely pitched since the Blue Jays acquired him in 2018.

In case you forgot how that came about, he was the return the Cleveland Indians sent back for Josh Donaldson in a trade that happened at the eleventh hour. In fact, that August trade wouldn’t even be possible under today’s rules, but the 2018 season was the last year that teams could trade a player up to August 31st.

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Of course, it was Donaldson’s shaky health that was the reason the Blue Jays had to settle for a package that was just one pitcher, and one who was coming off of Tommy John surgery. That said, Merryweather came with tremendous potential, but unfortunately we’ve yet to see it. He was still recovering from surgery in 2018 after the trade, and when he finally got back on the mound last season he was shut down again with elbow issues. The right-hander made just two appearances, one at the Rookie level, and another in High-A.

That led him to the Arizona Fall League where he was the second oldest player in the league. That hardly mattered though, as the only goal was to pitch and stay healthy, and thankfully he four appearances and throw a total of six innings.

When you look at that resume and consider that he’s already 28-years-old, typically you would think he could be the type of candidate to face being removed from the 40-man roster. However, he has a couple of things working for him, and I believe he’ll be a ways down the list, if he’s ever considered at all. First would be the aforementioned trade he was involved in with Donaldson, and even though the front offie probably would never admit it out loud, they’re going to want to give him every chance to prove his value and give them some return on that ill-fated trade.

Secondly, and far more importantly, is that pitchers who can throw 100 miles per hour don’t grow on trees, and Merryweather had that type of ability before his surgery. It’s been roughly two years since that time, and if he can get past the hiccups that plagued him last year then there could still be some real potential in that right arm of his.

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It’s hard to say whether that’s as a starting pitcher or even a reliever, but the first goal for Merryweather will be to prove he’s healthy and stay that way. Chances are the Blue Jays will give him every opportunity they can to do just that.

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