Blue Jays roster bubble predictions: Who snags the final bench and bullpen spots?

Toronto Blue Jays v New York Yankees
Toronto Blue Jays v New York Yankees / Jim McIsaac/GettyImages

With a little over a week, until the regular season begins, the Toronto Blue Jays have some upcoming decisions about who will make the Opening Day roster. 

Most of the group that will break camp is known at this point with several veterans and young stars whose place on the team is not in jeopardy.

There is a smaller cast of players that have been competing for a few spots on the team, bench player and reliever. The picture became a little clearer with the recent demotion of Addison Barger, but it’s unlikely that these spots are wrapped up yet. Here’s this writer’s best guess at who will snare the final spots.

On the bubble: Bench

The Blue Jays' new-look outfield of Daulton Varsho, Kevin Kiermaier, and George Springer should be among the best in the majors. Whit Merrifield and Cavan Biggio will be asked to fill in occasionally (mostly in the corners), but having a traditional fourth outfielder on the initial roster makes sense. A guy who can start a couple of games a week and be a late-inning pinch-hitter or defensive replacement. 

It appears as though this race has come down to Nathan Lukes, Otto Lopez and utilityman Vinny Capra, who Ben Nicholson-Smith named as one of the candidates on Wednesday. Each of the trio have had their moments and Lopez has seven hits in 15 at-bats after going six-for-nine in a brief MLB cameo last season. He’s also coming off a strong performance for Team Canada in the World Baseball Classic. 

But Lopez is still learning how to play the outfield, and although his versatility would be an asset, the big league team already has utility players on it. Capra has had a nice spring so far, but he seems to be the odd man out of the group and is likely to be on the short list of injury replacements rather than a member of the Opening Day roster.

Lukes would likely fit better in a part-time role than Lopez - who should be playing every day - would, and could play a major role if any of the big three outfielders, with considerable injury history, ends up being unavailable.

Prediction: Nathan Lukes

On the bubble: Bullpen

The core bullpen of Jordan Romano, Yimi García, Adam Cimber, and Tim Mayza will be joined by newcomer Erik Swanson and 2022 deadline acquisition Anthony Bass.  

Expect the last couple of jobs to be given to Trevor Richards and Zach Pop. Richards hasn’t had great results in a Blue Jays uniform but is out of options and cannot be freely sent to the minors without first being designated for assignment, giving him a leg up over the competition.

Trent Thornton is an option as well, but Pop has been sharper and has pitched over 90 innings in the bigs since 2021, having him in Triple-A would be a waste. Mitch White will likely start the season on the IL, but will get a look once he’s activated. As poor as the results were last season, the Jays need to see if they can get anything from the former Dodgers prospect who was traded for last year.

Prediction: Trevor Richards, Zach Pop