Blue Jays: Breaking down the 40-man roster prior to the MLB lockout

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 01: Baseball gloves lay on the turf ahead of the Toronto Blue Jays MLB game against the Baltimore Orioles at Rogers Centre on October 1, 2021 in Toronto, Ontario. (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 01: Baseball gloves lay on the turf ahead of the Toronto Blue Jays MLB game against the Baltimore Orioles at Rogers Centre on October 1, 2021 in Toronto, Ontario. (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images) /
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With the CBA set to expire on December 1st, numerous teams around the league made some trades and free-agent signings before the owners were able to lock out the players, a move that happened in the wee hours the following day. The Blue Jays made their own moves prior to the CBA expiry, adding Yimi Garcia and Kevin Gausman via free agency while also picking up right-hander Shaun Anderson off of waivers from the San Diego Padres.

Anderson would be designated for assignment and was outrighted to Buffalo days later while the Blue Jays added Hagen Danner, Leo Jimenez, Bowden Francis, and Zach Logue to the 40-man roster in order to protect them from the Rule 5 Draft. With these moves, as well as the losses of Robbie Ray, Steven Matz, Marcus Semien, Corey Dickerson, and a few other roster players to free agency (some have not signed elsewhere yet), the 40-man roster currently stands at 38 players.

The current breakdown on the roster is as follows:

22 – Pitchers

4 – Catchers

7 – Infielders

5 – Outfielders

Of these 38 players, only 26 are able to be on the active roster to begin the season while the majority of the remaining players will most likely be heading to AAA and AA depending on said player. A few top prospects are on the 40-man like Gabriel Moreno (#1), Otto Lopez (#5), Kevin Smith (#9), Jimenez (#11), Josh Palacios (#21), Logue (#27), Francis (#28), and Danner (#30).

Danner and Jimenez are still at least a year or two away from competing for a spot on the Major League roster while Moreno, Logue, and Francis will most likely start the year in AAA and could be making their debut sometime in 2022. Lopez, Smith, and Palacios all played with the Jays at some point in 2021 and will be competing for a role on the club during Spring Training but each player could realistically start the year in Buffalo or would be on the Blue Jays in a bench role. In my opinion, Smith has the best chance of getting the most playing time out of the group but Lopez could sneak his way into some playing time.

The Blue Jays headed into the lockout with 38 players on the 40-man roster, leaving little room for transactions once the new CBA is in place.

There are also numerous players who could potentially make the big league roster but could also be moved down to the Minor Leagues prior to Opening Day:

  • Nate Pearson
  • Trent Thornton
  • Kirby Snead
  • Tayler Saucedo
  • Anthony Castro
  • Thomas Hatch
  • Anthony Kay
  • Julien Merryweather

Every single one of these players is a pitcher, with most of them slotting into the relief pitching category. Pearson, Hatch, and Kay are considered starters and will be the additional depth down in AAA if injuries hit the Jays starting rotation while the current bullpen looks to have two spots open for internal candidates at the moment (if the club runs with an eight-man bullpen). Pearson has the best shot at snagging the last rotation spot but will be competing against Ross Stripling.

Looking Ahead

The Jays only have two open spots on the 40-man roster when it comes to Major League transactions. Players on MiLB deals are not part of the roster unless they are called up to the big league squad and then need to be added. One player who could crack the roster out of Spring Training who is currently with the Jays on a minor league deal is reliever David Phelps. To be added to the active roster, he will need to be added to the 40-man and would require one of those spots unless there is a corresponding move.

Another roster spot that the Blue Jays would need is if they choose to select a player via the Rule 5 Draft. This player must remain on the active roster for the entire season or be sent back to his original team. While the lockout has delayed the Rule 5 Draft, it is most likely going to take place once a new CBA is in place and the Jays could look to add a player, requiring a spot on the 40-man roster.

Lastly, if Ross Atkins and co. are looking to add players via free agency or trade, roster spots might need to be created. Free agency deals could be a bit tricky considering the club may have to DFA a player in a corresponding move to free up space but the Jays do have two spots to play with at this time. If they choose to trade, the club could free up roster spots by trading player(s) on the 40-man already like Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Randal Grichuk, or Alejandro Kirk.

Additional spots could open up if players hit the 60-day IL but that’s something the club shouldn’t be banking on nor does it help the roster having players injured for long periods of time.

All things considered, the Blue Jays have some wiggle room with the two open spots but there are some players who may get DFA’d prior to Opening Day. There are a few relief pitchers who could find themselves off the 40-man while players like Reese McGuire and Ryan Borucki are out of minor league options and need to make the active roster, otherwise, they must be designated and will be removed from the 40-man which frees up two more spots.

Next. Players who could be traded once the lockout is over. dark

Stay tuned for a potential candidates list in the near future.