In just two days, the Toronto Blue Jays and every team across the MLB will be able to add two extra players when the rosters expand to 28 players on September 1st.
We already know that with the recent re-addition of Bradley Zimmer that he will occupy one of the spots, meaning the Jays will be able to add one more player, which will likely be a bullpen arm from AAA to hit the max of 14 pitchers on the active roster through the remainder of the schedule.
One pitcher who likely fits this bill is Zach Pop, acquired alongside Anthony Bass from the Miami Marlins in exchange for Jordan Groshans. Pop was on the active roster until Tim Mayza returned, with the right-hander being demoted because he was one of the only pitchers in the bullpen with Minor League options available. With the Jays, Pop posted a 2.70 ERA through 6.2 innings of work and since being moved to Buffalo, the Brampton, Ontario product has made only two appearances but got tagged for two earned runs in his last outing while issuing two walks in the process.
Another pitcher likely in the mix is Trent Thornton. He owns a 4.30 ERA through 31 appearances at the big league level, posting a 7.4 K/9 with a 1.273 WHIP. Thornton has done well in AAA when not with the Jays, owning a 1.69 ERA through 16.0 innings, and adding three saves into the mix as well.
Other potential candidates include Adrian Hernadnez, Yosver Zulueta, Casey Lawerence, Tayler Saucedo, and Nate Pearson.
The Blue Jays might have to make some 40-man roster decisions if the club chooses to promote Julian Merryweather when rosters expand on September 1st.
Lastly, there is Julian Merryweather, the hard-throwing right-hander who started the year with the Blue Jays but struggled mightily and has now spent a good chunk of time on the IL with an abdominal strain.
He made the Opening Day roster before being demoted to Buffalo in early May, rejoining the squad on May 23rd and eventually finding himself on the IL in mid-June. For this season, Merryweather owns a 6.38 ERA through 20 appearances, allowing 20 hits and just three walks while posting an 8.3 K/9 at the big league level.
The California product returned to the diamond on August 6th and has been rehabbing in AAA since August 12th, making seven appearances over that time. Through 7.2 innings, Merryweather has allowed just three hits and four walks while not allowing an earned run, striking out 10 batters in the process with a fastball sitting in the high 90s. Opponents own a .115 batting average through this time and Merryweather has struck out two or more batters on four different occasions during this rehab stint in Buffalo.
With Zimmer rejoining the organization, the Blue Jays have an interesting decision should they look to promote Merryweather back to the active roster. He will need to be activated from the 60-day IL prior to this return and the Zimmer addition now has the Jays at a full 40-man roster, with 44 players total and four on the 60-day IL (freeing up four extra spots).
With a potential Merryweather return, somebody from the 40-man roster would have to be dropped, whether it be somebody from the active roster like Trevor Richards or Jackie Bradley Jr. (which seems unlikely) or someone in the minors like Vinny Capra, Foster Griffin, or Thomas Hatch (amongst others).
There are numerous options the Jays front office could look into, one that will also need to be made for Saucedo and Pearson if the club wants to have a look at either player a the MLB level sometime in September, as both pitchers are also on the 60-day IL. This doesn’t mean the Jays would lose said player, as they could always pass through waivers and be outrighted to AAA, but it is something to note if the Jays want to bring Merryweather back to the MLB in September. Merryweather went on the 60-day IL on July 2nd and would be able to be removed from the IL in early September when rosters expand.
It’s not known who the Blue Jays plan on bringing up with the additional roster spot besides Zimmer, so it will be interesting to see which pitcher the Jays are leaning towards. Many think it is a two-horse race between Merryweather and Pop but it wouldn’t be surprising if Thornton is also in the mix given his previous experience at the MLB level.
We shall wait and see!