Blue Jays: Who Gets DFA’d or Traded in the Coming 40-Man Roster Crunch
By Charles Kime
The Toronto Blue Jays have a coming roster crunch. They currently have eight players on the 60-day injured list (IL), but four of them are nearing a return to the major league roster. As per MLB rules, “Players placed on the 60-day injured list must remain on it for a minimum of 60 days and are temporarily removed from a club’s 40-man roster… [but clubs must] clear a spot on the 40-man roster when the injured player is ready to return.”
This 40-man roster crunch means either a player currently on the 10-day IL, like Danny Jansen, Ryan Borucki or Travis Bergen would have to be transferred to the 60-day IL, or another player currently on the 40-man roster would have to be designated for assignment (DFA’d) or traded once Thomas Hatch, Patrick Murphy, Alejandro Kirk and Julian Merryweather are activated from the 60-day IL in the next few weeks.
Players on the bubble to be DFA’d in terms of like-for-like player moves include relievers Carl Edwards Jr., Jeremy Beasley and Travis Bergen when the above pitchers return, but which position player should Kirk replace on the 40-man roster?
An informal Facebook poll conducted this weekend in a popular Blue Jays group asked who gets DFA’d or traded in the coming roster crunch?
In an informal Facebook poll over the weekend through Sunday evening, of 346 votes on who gets DFA’d or traded once Merryweather, Kirk, Hatch and Murphy are activated from the 60-day IL and they have to make room on the 40-man roster, 35% said Rowdy Tellez, 21% said Rafael Dolis, 19% said Reese McGuire, and 13% said Tyler Chatwood.
In particular, the Jays bullpen needs clear MLB talent upgrades rather than the shifting of deck chairs we’ve seen over the past one month. Thomas Hatch and Patrick Murphy are internal options who’ve both been eligible to return from the IL since May 28th.
Hatch, who’d been out with an elbow impingement, started his rehab assignment on May 20th. According to MLB.com, “Hatch was shut down due to some mild side tightness recently, but returned to the mound on June 6th and will continue to build back up as a starter.” So far, he’s made three starts for Triple-A Buffalo, pitching to a 1.29 ERA over 7 innings with eight strikeouts and two walks, and an opponent’s batting average of only .167, last tossing two shutout innings on Friday, June 11th with three K’s.
Murphy, out with a sprained shoulder, started his rehab assignment shortly thereafter on May 23rd. He just pitched another solid two innings of scoreless relief on Saturday for the Triple-A Bisons. He’s got a 1.86 ERA in seven relief appearances for Dunedin and Buffalo covering 9.2 innings in his rehab, with 13 K’s. Opponents are batting .211 against him.
Kirk, who has a strained left hip flexor, has been DH-ing in games at extended spring training and will be eligible to return to the roster on July 1st.
Julian Merryweather, who has a strained oblique, was eligible to return from the IL on Sunday, June 13th, but apparently he’s nowhere near ready to return. According to General Manager Ross Atkins latest update on June 6th, “the club wants him to be ready to pitch back-to-back when he’s back on the 40-man roster. He’s in a throwing routine now, though, which is encouraging.”
So the Jays front office will have to address a 40-man roster crunch in the coming weeks, and also address a weak bullpen. Just blaming injuries isn’t cutting it when Atkins has known for a month or more that Yates, Phelps, Merryweather and Borucki wouldn’t be available. Besides, Merryweather, Borucki, Hatch and Murphy combined only have 77 MLB relief innings under their belts, and Carl Edwards Jr., Dolis and Chatwood are all just average at best when they revert to career norms. This does not appear to be a playoff calibre bullpen, even when healthy.
Ross Atkins will have to juggle activating Hatch, Murphy, Kirk and Merryweather in the coming weeks and adding them back to the 40-man roster. Edwards Jr., is clearly a DFA candidate after his poor performance since signing an MiLB contract last month. Rookie Jeremy Beasley, who manager Charlie Montoyo seemingly has little confidence in, could also easily be DFA’d after Atkins acquired him from the last place Arizona Diamondbacks for cash considerations.
Could Atkins include players like Tellez, McGuire, Dolis and Chatwood in trade packages with prospects for pitching upgrades as well? Or are these all DFA candidates instead? Roster moves over the coming weeks will set the tone for the final half of of the season, and as Sid Seixeiro, formerly of ‘Tim & Sid’, succinctly put it in his tweet above, this is now on Ross and the front office to help the batters with better arms.