Blue Jays: What should they do with their extra roster spots?
By Reuben Gasee
MLB teams will have expanded rosters to work with during the shortened 2020 season. What should the Blue Jays do with the extra roster space?
If the season went ahead as planned, the Opening Day roster would have consisted of 26 players with half being pitchers as the rules state. Due to Coronavirus throwing a wrench into everything, Major League Baseball agreed that teams can carry 30 players to start the season until it gets narrowed down to 28 after two weeks, and then the original 26 two weeks later.
The question is, how should Charlie Montoyo fill the extra four spots that he originally wouldn’t have had? Should he use them all on bullpen arms or bench bats? Split them two and two? Go with a 6-man rotation and give the other three spots to whoever performs best in training camp regardless of position?
If there were only 26 spots to give, it would have consisted of a 5-man rotation, 8-man bullpen with eight position players on the field, a primary designated hitter and four bench bats with one of them being a catcher. There are four extra spots though, and everyone from the players to the coaching staff seems to benefit.
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Going into Spring Training back in February, Charlie Montoyo and the front office had a tough decision to make in regards to Anthony Alford and Derek Fisher. As both were out of minor league options, if they didn’t make the team out of camp, they would be exposed on waivers allowing any team to pick them up in which both were former highly regarded prospects. With expanded rosters now, two of those spots should go to Fisher and Alford to give them the opportunity to prove themselves on the big league team.
If Montoyo wants to go with a 6-man rotation, the Jays have a player on the roster they can do that with. That player is Shun Yamaguchi who they brought in from Japan during the offseason. Going into Spring Training, the first four of the rotation was set with the final spot being battled out between Yamaguchi and Trent Thornton, with the latter seeming to get the upper hand due to better performance.
If a 6-man rotation is something that Montoyo wants to experiment with, this kind of saves the Jays a roster spot in which they don’t have to add a player onto the roster to use for the rotation, if that’s the direction that Montoyo wants to go in. They could also use Nate Pearson as part of this group, but that’s a topic for another day.
As mentioned before, with a 26 man roster the Jays would have had four players on their bench which probably would have consisted of something like Reese McGuire, Joe Panik, Brandon Drury and one other player (most likely one of Alford or Fisher) with Rowdy Tellez serving as the primary DH.
Two other hitters that could have been given consideration for a roster spot would have been Ruben Tejada, who they signed to a minor league deal in the offseason, and Billy McKinney. With expanded rosters, these guys have a better shot to make the team like all players do.
With starters potentially being unable to be stretched out fully, bullpens could be a valuable commodity to a team. Montoyo could opt to use the remaining two spots on bullpen arms and have a 10-man bullpen which would be a deep bullpen in regards to depth. This would also allow the Jays more flexibility to carry a lefty as going back to February, there was no guarantee that the Jays were going to have a southpaw in their ‘pen. Brian Moran and Thomas Pannone are the most notable left-handed relievers the Jays have signed for now.
If I were Charlie Montoyo or manager of the Blue Jays, I would give two spots to Alford and Fisher with the other two spots going to relief pitchers. Two bench bats, two bullpen arms. It’ll be interesting to see how the roster breaks down a little less than a month from now.