Blue Jays: Race for the final bench spot finally gets some clarity with latest cuts

Feb 25, 2023; Bradenton, Florida, USA;  Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Addison Barger (44) hits a
Feb 25, 2023; Bradenton, Florida, USA; Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Addison Barger (44) hits a / Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

With the regular season just around the corner, the Toronto Blue Jays made a series of cuts from big league camp today, making the race for the 26th spot on the Opening Day roster a little clearer.

Addison Barger was among the 11 players the team reassigned or optioned in the most significant round of cuts this spring. The up-and-coming prospect, who had given himself an outside shot at breaking camp with the team with his strong spring, was optioned to Triple-A.

The 23-year-old slashed .294/.351/.441 in 15 Grapefruit League games. He showed promise with a home run, a pair of doubles and six RBI. The infielder, who has a rocket for an arm, expanded his game with reps in the outfield in a bid to impress the Jays' decision-makers. Ultimately, it wasn't enough.

With Barger no longer in the picture, the final spot on the Opening Day roster will likely go to outfielder Nathan Lukes or utilityman Otto Lopez. Both players have made strong cases for themselves in camp.

The 28-year-old Lukes has 38 plate appearances in 15 Grapefruit League games so far. He has a .303/.368/.424 slash line with two doubles, a triple and five RBI. There's a strong case for carrying an experienced outfielder who can cover all three positions, even if his experience isn't at the major league level.

Lopez, 24, also has a solid case to fly north with the big league club at the end of camp. He made 17 plate appearances for the Jays before departing for the World Baseball Classic. He slashed a healthy .467/.529/.667 with a double, a triple and three RBI in his six Grapefruit League games.

Lopez may have given himself a leg up with his performance for Canada at the WBC. In four games, he hit .294 with an impressive .921 OPS. He hit a towering three-run home run, legged out a triple, scored four runs and led the team with six RBI.

Despite the intrigue around the final roster spot, no matter who makes the team, there's a good chance Jays fans will see both Lukes and Lopez in Toronto before the end of the season.

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