3 Blue Jays DFA candidates who could lose 40-man roster spots before Opening Day
By Eric Treuden
As we inch closer and closer to Opening Day of the 2023 MLB season, the Toronto Blue Jays still have a few roster decisions to make in the coming days.
While infield prospect Addison Barger was optioned and effectively taken out of the running for the final bench spot, Nathan Lukes and Otto Lopez remain in camp to fight it out for the spot.
Then there's the bullpen, where there are still a few question marks. Mitch White is likely going to begin the year on the injured list with a shoulder injury, which adds "long reliever" to the list additions the Jays have to make.
Breaking down the top DFA candidates for the Blue Jays
Richards, 29, is still under contract through the upcoming season and next season. If he continues to play the way he did in 2022, he will not make it to the end of the contract as a member of the Blue Jays.
The former Marlin, Ray and Brewer has made a total of 94 appearances in Toronto over the past two seasons, posting an ERA of 4.66 and an ERA+ of 88. His 2021 performance was decent after being acquired from the Brewers, but last year he couldn't seem to find a way to stop giving up runs.
While he made 62 appearances in 2022, Richards should not be relied upon to once again take the mound that often for the Blue Jays. His lack of minor league options puts the club in a strange spot. He cannot be optioned down to the minors without first being passed through waivers. There are multiple pitchers beneath him on the depth chart that should leapfrog him, leading to his DFA prior to the season.
This is such a tired argument to make, but Hatch has not produced in any way since joining the Blue Jays and frankly, is not deserving of a 40-man roster spot any longer.
The 28-year-old hurler has shown ever so slight glimpses of hope since he debuted for the Jays in 2020, but has crashed down to earth in each of the past two seasons.
While he is coming off of an impressive two inning outing in which he struck out two and didn't allow a run, Hatch's days have to be numbered on the 40-man roster. Perhaps he would be best suited on a different club and could be something of a "change of scenery" candidate.
Sticking with pitchers, Thornton is another hurler that just has not gotten it done for the Blue Jays. The argument could be made that other pitchers (like Jackson Rees, Bowden Francis, Jimmy Robbins, Jay Jackson or Brandon Eisert) are more deserving of a spot on the 40-man.
Since being brought over prior to the 2019 season, Thornton, 29, has made over 100 appearances in a Blue Jays uniform, but he has a 4.84 ERA and 91 ERA+ for his career mark. As he transitioned to more of a full-time relief role last year, there was no real improvement in any of his numbers on the mound. All signs point to him being an average pitcher who is not going to be much of a contributor as time moves forward.
At this point, his 21-game showing in Triple-A last season in which he posteda 2.89 ERA with 30 strikeouts and just one home run allowed in 28 innings may be what's keeping him around on the roster. He has a 6.75 ERA in seven appearances in Spring Training, furthering the point of him not needing to be kept on the 40-man any longer.