Toronto Blue Jays: Checking in on old friends during Spring Training

Seattle Mariners v San Diego Padres
Seattle Mariners v San Diego Padres / Steph Chambers/GettyImages

We are down to two weeks remaining in Major League Baseball Spring Training and teams are going to start making a heavy dose of cuts to get their opening day 26-man rosters ready.  With a drastic change to some of the key positions on the Blue Jays roster from 2022, fans have old favorites scattered around the league.  Here is a look at how some old friends are doing with their new teams.

Lourdes Gurriel Jr. – Arizona Diamondbacks

After six seasons in the Blue Jays organization which five of those were spent in Toronto, the extremely upbeat Lourdes Gurriel Jr. was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks this past offseason.  The Cuban left fielder will likely be playing every day at that position and through Sunday March 12, he had got into eight games.  He had walked (5) more than he had struck out (4), was 9-for-23 (.391) at the plate with a home run and a pair of doubles.

Gabriel Moreno – Arizona Diamondbacks

Once one of baseball’s top prospects, Gabriel Moreno was the main piece that went with Gurriel to the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for Daulton Varsho.  Moreno will get a better chance of getting major league at-bats this season with Arizona and he is proving himself to fans early in Spring Training.  At the plate he has a pair of home runs in 17 at-bats, while collecting seven hits total (.412).  At the current time, he looks to have the inside job to share catching duties with Carson Kelly over José Herrera.

Teoscar Hernández – Seattle Mariners

Things may be off to a dicey start in the relationship between Teoscar Hernández and Seattle Mariners.  The two went to arbitration for his 2023 salary, with the former Blue Jay requesting $16M and the team offering $14M. The arbitrator would eventually favor the team over the player, which can never be good for the relationship. Hernández will now be going into his free agent walk year with a potential chip on his shoulder with the organization.

The power-hitting outfield was late to Spring Training because of the arbitration and has battled some issues with his back which has led to him getting into just five games so far. Hernández is currently 5-for-13 (.385) collecting five RBI thanks to a double and a home run.

Raimel Tapia – Boston Red Sox

The Blue Jays acquired Raimel Tapia from the Colorado Rockies in exchange for Randal Grichuk.  Originally thought to be the fourth outfielder, Tapia would end up getting into 128 games last year thanks to injuries to the starters. The Dominican Republic native signed a minor league deal with the Boston Red Sox that included an invite to Spring Training.  The Red Sox are trying to get as long of a look at Tapia as possible which has allowed him to get into eight games and accumulating 21 at-bats.  He may be earning a spot on the 26-man roster as he is 9-for-21 (.429) with six extra base hits, five being doubles.

Bradley Zimmer – Los Angeles Dodgers

Everyone’s favorite outfielder, Bradley Zimmer got himself a minor league contract from the Los Angeles Dodgers with an invite to camp.  Zimmer is proving why you have to be careful about Spring Training numbers as the 30-year old is posting a slash line of .316/.458/.458 thanks to getting on base in ten of his 24 plate appearances this spring, but he has also struck out 11 times in 19 at bats.

Ross Stripling – San Francisco Giants

The former swing man and eventual savior of the 2022 season, Ross Stripling signed on with the San Francisco Giants this past offseason.  He made his third appearance with his new team over the weekend and had a bit of a bounce back after being hit hard in his second outing. On Saturday, Stripling had his deepest outing this spring as he pitched into the fourth inning (3.1 IP) and struck out six hitters, but he did allow a pair of extra base hits and two runs.  In his previous appearance, Stripling came in relief to start the fourth inning and would surrender three runs that was highlighted by a two-run home run by former Blue Jays prospect Samad Taylor.  Stripling allowed an additional run the next inning to allow four over three innings.  After three appearances, he has given up 13 hits and six runs over 8.1 innings pitched, but has yet to walk a batter and has struck out nine.

Anthony Kay and Julian Merryweather – Chicago Cubs

The Chicago Cubs swooped in this offseason to claim both Anthony Kay and Julian Merryweather off of waivers from the Jays. Both players appear to be in a battle for one of the last bullpen spots on their 26-man roster and are making cases for themselves.

Merryweather has impressed fans with his 98mph fastball and has struck out four batters over three innings so far this spring; and he has yet to give up a run in any of his appearances.  Kay has been just as impressive as he allowed his first run during Spring Training this past weekend in his fourth appearance. He has surrendered just two hits over four innings while striking out five without walking a batter.  The two former Blue Jays are trying to force the Cubs management to take both of them to Opening Day.

Matt Gage – Houston Astros

In a curios move in February, the Blue Jays designated Matt Gage for assignment and he was claimed by the Houston Astros.  Houston has used Gage three times this spring and he has yet to allow a run through three innings.  

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