The Blue Jays are set to get several reinforcements back over the next week or so, but that also means they’ll have a few roster decisions to make.
Ross Atkins provided an update on several players on Thursday (recapped nicely by our own David Corcoran), and the list is fairly lengthy, which is obviously great news.
As far as the lineup is concerned, there’s a good chance we’re finally going to see the Blue Jays debut for George Springer, if not this weekend, then early next week. Assuming that Teoscar Hernandez’s Covid test goes well today, he should be eligible to return within a few days as well.
When it comes to the pitching staff, there’s a lot of help on the way, which is a very good thing after how many injuries they’ve dealt with so far this year. Within the next week we’re likely to see the returns Tyler Chatwood, Jordan Romano, and likely Ross Stripling too. Not too far behind them is Nate Pearson, who according to mlb.com’s Keegan Matheson, might be an option as early as two weeks from now. He’ll throw an abbreviated outing on Friday, followed by a 3-5 inning appearance next week, and could make his own return after that.
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Add it all up and there are a lot of bodies that could be coming and going. That second part will be where more work begins for Atkins and Charlie Montoyo as they decide which 26 players give them the best chance to win right now.
It’ll be interesting to see who gets sent back to Triple-A in Trenton, and even more so if there’s anyone who is designated for assignment with the healthy bodies coming back into the fold. For what it’s worth, here’s how I think it’ll go.
Springer and Hernandez in, Josh Palacios and Jonathan Davis out.
The other option would be to send Santiago Espinal back to Triple-A, but I think they’ll keep him around. With Springer and Hernandez joining a healthy Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and Randal Grichuk, there’s going to be a competition for playing time in the outfield as it is. If they need a 5th outfielder, Cavan Biggio is capable, and Espinal is the superior defender at third anyway.
Everything could change with another injury or two, but my prediction is the Blue Jays swap two outfielders for two fresh upgrades.
This one is more extensive, and if we’re counting Pearson then that means there could be up to four arms that need to go to make room for big Nate, plus Romano, Chatwood, and Stripling.
The obvious place to start would with those they can option, and that likely includes Joel Payamps, Anthony Kay, and Anthony Castro. My guess is they’d like to keep one or both of the Anthony’s around though, so it’ll be interesting to see how things develop over the next week.
Also on the bubble will be Tommy Milone, who signed a MiLB deal prior to the year. He’d likely need to be designated for assignment and removed from the 40-man roster, and so far he’s performed fairly well. It’s entirely possible that he goes unclaimed though too, and I doubt the Blue Jays will sweat the decision too much.
The biggest name that could be on the chopping block would be Tanner Roark, who has lost his gig as a starting pitcher and has now moved to the bullpen to serve in what looks like a bulk/mop-up role. The only thing keeping the Jays from DFA-ing him now would be the hope that he can turn things around and earn some part of his 12 million dollar salary for this season, but that’s looking like a lost cause. My guess is the only way he keeps his job is if another pitcher hits the Injured List sometime over the next week or so.
Again, a lot can change by the time that Pearson returns in a couple of weeks, but assuming everyone is healthy my prediction is:
Romano, Chatwood, Stripling and Pearson in, Payamps, Kay, Milone, and Roark out.
How do you think the Blue Jays will manage the roster once their healthy bodies return? Hopefully the rest of the roster can avoid in the IL in the meantime.