The Blue Jays will have some tough decisions to make while rounding out their Opening Day roster. Have they already decided to carry five outfielders?
The Blue Jays should have some interesting battles during Spring Training this year, and how they fill out their bench remains one of the biggest question marks.
With the addition of the 26th roster spot I think it’s safe to say that they’ll carry a four-man bench, while using an eight-man bullpen on a regular basis. How Charlie Montoyo decides to fill out that bench will be one of the major questions before Opening Day, and there are a few different options.
We know they’ll need a back-up catcher and that spot will go to Reese McGuire, at least on the days he’s not starting. They’ll need a back-up infielder, and preferably one who can cover shortstop, and that job could go to Brandon Drury or a more defensive-minded option like Ruben Tejada. They’ll need a back-up outfielder, and then they could use their fourth spot in a variety of different ways, including carrying someone like Rowdy Tellez.
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There are a lot of variables at play here, including the Blue Jays 40-man roster and the lack of minor league options for some of their players. For example, if they decide to break camp with someone like Tejada or Joe Panik, they’ll need to make space on the 40-man roster to activate them. On the flip side, they have to carry both Derek Fisher and Anthony Alford unless they want to try and pass them through waivers, where they would almost assuredly be lost to another team.
While I assumed that it would be a while before the Blue Jays let us in on their plans for the upcoming season, Charlie Montoyo tipped his cap a bit in a recent article from MLB.com’s Keegan Matheson. Montoyo acknowledged that the starters would more than likely be Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Randal Grichuk, and Teoscar Hernandez, but then added an interesting point.
“We have the three outfielders who are in for sure,” manager Charlie Montoyo said in January. “Gurriel, Hernandez and Grichuk. Then, we’ll see out of [Derek] Fisher, [Anthony] Alford, [Billy] McKinney and [Jonathan] Davis. They’ll be competing for the other two spots.”
The other two spots eh? Maybe I’m reading too much into an off the cuff remark, but that sounded like a pretty definitive statement from the Blue Jays’ manager.
It’s not a huge surprise that the Blue Jays would consider going this route, but there weren’t and still aren’t any guarantees that they’ll carry five outfielders. They could choose to go with just four on the roster to start the year, and they would still have guys like Drury or Cavan Biggio who are capable of switching to an outfielder corner as well.
However, if the Blue Jays are serious about making two spots for bench outfielders, that should bode well for Alford’s chances of making the team out of Spring Training. Montoyo talked about a battle between Fisher, Alford, McKinney, and Davis, but the latter two still have minor league options. Rowdy Tellez also has an option remaining, so as long as the Blue Jays don’t have to use Alford’s spot to add a pitcher to the 40-man roster, maybe he does get one more shot in Toronto.
It’s also still possible the Blue Jays could make a trade or two before Opening Day, or perhaps they change their minds about how they want to use the bench this season. For now though, it sounds like they’re planning on carrying five outfielders, and that should be music to the ears of fans of Anthony Alford.