Like most teams, the Blue Jays announced the bulk of their 60-man roster for this season, but they left an important spot available.
We’re getting closer to the July 1 report date for the second go-around for spring training, and hopefully the Blue Jays will soon have some answers about where and when they’ll be able to get back to work. As of this writing on Sunday evening, it appears that they’ll be able to work out of the Rogers Centre in Toronto, although we’re still awaiting official word from the Canadian Federal government.
In the mean time the front office has to get back to work when it comes to sorting out their roster ahead of the season, and one of the important steps took place on Sunday as well. The Blue Jays were among many teams who announced their club player pool, which can be up to 60 players. Not surprisingly the Jays included a few of their premium prospects who likely won’t be competing at the highest level this year, including Jordan Groshans, Simeon Woods Richardson, Alek Manoah, and Alejandro Kirk. They also left two spots open for now, and there’s a pretty good reason for that.
First and foremost, the Blue Jays have yet to come to terms with Austin Martin, their first round pick from this year’s MLB draft. If and when that happens, Martin will likely be ticketed for that player pool, mostly in the interest of keeping him active in baseball circles in 2020. He’s already rated at #16 on Baseball America’s top 100 prospects list, and the Blue Jays really don’t want to lose a year of development. Some fans were confused why Martin’s name wasn’t on Sunday’s list, but unfortunately you can’t roster a player that you haven’t officially signed.
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The Blue Jays also left one extra spot, naming just 58 players on Sunday, and my guess is that will still give them some flexibility. We also learned that teams will only be allowed to trade from their player pool of up to 60 players, which is an interesting wrinkle for this year. I’m sure the primary reason for that was in the interest of safety, but it will also limit front offices when trying to put together a few deals this summer.
Assuming the Blue Jays are holding room for Martin, that final spot would allow them to create roster space for an incoming player in a trade, whether that be with an eye on improving the team in 2020, or possibly into the future. The Blue Jays weren’t the only club to utilize this strategy, as for example, the Yankees also limited their announcement to 58 players. The Rays used a different strategy by using all 60 spots, while the Red Sox and Orioles took an original approach, with the former announcing 47, and the latter 44.
As for when the Blue Jays might sign Martin and be able to add him to the roster, it’s hard to say at the moment. They have until August 15th to get the deal done, but I’m sure they’d like to get things finalized sooner than later. That said, they’ve also yet to sign their fourth round pick Nick Frasso, and I imagine the two cases are linked. Any money the Blue Jays save by signing Frasso below slot could be able to be shuffled over to Martin’s total, and I’m sure the Blue Jays want to get that number as high as they can. There are limitations unless they are willing to forfeit future draft picks, which no team has ever done, but they should be able to reach an agreement sooner than later.
For now, we know at least 58 of the names that we can get excited about for the 2020 campaign. Teams will start with 30-man rosters to begin the 60-game season, and the camp battles will start this next week.