With Opening Day set for this Friday against the Texas Rangers, the Blue Jays only have two more games left on their Spring Training schedule before they pack their bags and head North for the summer. While a large portion of the roster has already been decided like the starting rotation, infield, and outfield, there are a few areas that still have spots up for grabs when it comes to filling out the bullpen and who will be on the bench.
Looking at the overall roster picture, the Blue Jays recently selected the contract of David Phelps which secured a spot for him on the squad and 40-man roster, meaning there is only one spot left heading into the last week of Spring Training. The club has numerous options at their disposal for this spot, with each one having a vastly different outcome depending on how the club wants to shape up the roster heading into the first series this weekend.
One of the lefty-bats vying for a spot on the roster, Greg Bird spent all of last season in AAA within the Colorado Rockies system and joins the Blue Jays as a non-roster invitee. So far this spring, Bird has been pretty on point, posting a .265 batting average along with two home runs, six RBI, and a .958 OPS through 23 at-bats. He also has the same amount of walks compared to strikeouts at five apiece and if I were a betting man, he most likely has the inside track for the last spot internally given his lefty-bat (that the Jays lack) and his ability to back up Vladimir Guerrero Jr. at first base.
A career minor leaguer in the New York Yankees and San Diego Padres systems, infielder Gosuke Katoh was signed to a Minor League contract and was additional infield depth down in AAA should the need arise. This spring, Katoh has posted some pretty solid numbers at the plate, a .348 batting average and a .965 OPS through 23 at-bats, and has the ability to play multiple positions in the infield. Factor in that the California product also bats from the left side of the batter’s box, and it wouldn’t be a complete surprise that the club decides to bring him to Toronto to begin the season. His biggest competition will be Bird for that last spot.
The Toronto Blue Jays have one spot remaining on the 40-man roster, and with Opening Day right around the corner, one wonders who will get the call.
Originally drafted by the Cleveland Indians back in 2015, outfielder Nathan Lukes has been pretty impressive this spring, owning a 1.221 OPS through 23 at-bats that ranks him amongst the Jays roster players. A versatile outfielder who can play all three positions, Lukes is on the outside looking in at the moment, especially since the Blue Jays have Raimel Tapia as a fourth outfielder and depth in Josh Palacios who is already on the 40-man roster. However, Lukes is doing absolutely everything he can to gain favour, especially with plays like throwing out Josh Donaldson at second, and while he may begin the season in AAA, a hot bat and some stellar defence could leapfrog him over Palacios and he could be the first outfielder to get a call if injuries arise on the main roster.
While the Blue Jays do have an open roster spot, there is no rule that states the Blue Jays have to fill it prior to Opening Day. With rosters being trimmed down and players getting DFA’d from other organizations over the next week, General Manager Ross Atkins could look towards the waiver wire when it comes to improving the Major League squad. They could also choose to keep the spot open since players like Joshua Fuentes and Dexter Fowler are with the organization on MiLB contracts but got later starts to the Spring Training campaign, waiting to see who can come out of the gate strong as the Minor League season gets underway soon.
Other players who could earn their way into a roster spot sometime later this season and be used as injury replacements are RHP Shaun Anderson, RHP Joe Biagini, INF Jordan Groshans, and OF Mallex Smith but I don’t think they have a shot to start the year in Toronto.