Blue Jays open up some payroll with Tuesday's decisions
The Blue Jays front office had to make some of the first tough decisions of the offseason on Tuesday, and the 40-man roster looks a little different as a result.
The Blue Jays announced that both Raimel Tapia and Bradley Zimmer are being designated for assignment, and right-hander Foster Griffin has been released in order to pursue an international opportunity. With the new space and one extra still available, the club has added Orelvis Martinez, Addison Barber, Yosver Zululeta, and Spencer Horwitz to the 40-man roster, which also protects them from the Rule 5 draft coming up.
None of the moves should come as a big surprise to Blue Jays fans, with the possible exception of Raimel Tapia. The 28 year old ended up playing fairly regularly in 2022, in part because of the injuries the team suffered to the starting outfield trio of George Springer, Lourdes Gurriel Jr., and Teoscar Hernandez. In total Tapia played in 128 games and made 433 plate appearances, slashing .265/.292/.380 in the process.
When I step back and look Tapia's numbers as a whole, it makes sense that the Blue Jays would go in another direction. His on-base percentage isn't high enough to warrant even semi-regular playing time, and that's especially the case due to the lack of power in his bat. He's not really that great of an outfielder either, even if he was serviceable enough in a power spot. The amount of playing time he received this past season was more of a reflection of injuries that needed to be covered than anythign else, unfortunately.
Tapia's departure likely means that the Blue Jays will be in the market for at least one outfielder this offseason, and maybe even two. They do still have their starting trio under contract (although Gurriel Jr. and Hernandez will both be free agents at the end of the season), and others like Whit Merrifield and Cavan Biggio can handle the outfield as well. There has also been plenty of speculation, including from yours truly, that the Jays might trade one of their corner outfielders over the winter as well, which would only add to the need.
The good news is that designating Tapia for assignment means that the Blue Jays have probably opened up another five million or so that they can allocate to another part of the roster. It's not a massive sum by any means, but it could make the difference in being able to land a bullpen arm, for example. I realize that Rogers has the ability to spend as much as they want to, but it appears that there will be a limit to the payroll this winter, and that five million could be important.
It's possible Tapia or even Zimmer find their way back to Toronto once the Blue Jays have a chance to massage their 40-man roster throughout the winter, but for now I'm not terribly surprised things have ended this way. Tapia was a likeable enough player to be sure, but respectfully, here's hoping the Blue Jays can find an upgrade and put that payroll space to good use.