This is a continuation of the review of the 40-man roster decisions. Note: with Romero and Nickeas being designated for assignment (DFAed) and subsequently outrighted, and Langerhans filling for free agency the roster stands now at 44 players.
The question of the players with contract options brought an great debate: do you exercise the options just because they make sense from a money stand point? The discussion was interesting, and shows the major issues facing the Blue Jays. Actually it was fascinating that, other than Casey Janssen, the most popular option to exercise was for a player whose main asset was roster flexibility: Munenori Kawasaki.
I will now start a two-part review of the pitching roster decisions facing the Blue Jays this winter. The 40-man roster currently has 26 pitchers, and the strength of it lies in the options which would generally be considered for the fifth and sixth starters and the sixth and seventh relievers. This will assume the top nine (the "Top 9") spots are filled by R.A. Dickey, Mark Buehrle, Brandon Morrow, an acquisition, Casey Janssen, Sergio Santos, Steve Delabar, Brett Cecil, and Aaron Loup.
The remaining Pitchers on the 40-man roster
Pitchers without minor league options: J.A. Happ, Jeremy Jeffress, Brad Lincoln, Dustin McGowan, Luis Perez, Todd Redmond, Esmil Rogers.
Pitchers with minor league options: Kyle Drabek, Drew Hutchison, Chad Jenkins, Sean Nolin, Neil Wagner, Juan Perez, Mickey Storey, Thad Weber
free agents have been omitted.
Part 1- The Optionless Crew
This is possibly where the biggest roster crunch the Jays will be facing for next year. Even if one of these could be moved into a Top 9 spot following a trade or an injury, there still needs to be some extra movement, as the Jays have seven pitchers for a maximum four spots (assuming there is no good reason to carry more than 13 pitchers ever). The Blue Jays also have some other pitchers in the system that will make a push for one of these spots--which I will discuss in a forthcoming article.
So let’s look at the candidates:
|2013 - J.A. Happ||5-7||19||18||0||0||0||0||92.2||91||53||47||10||45||77||4.56||1.47|
|2013 - Dustin McGowan||0-0||25||0||0||0||0||1||25.2||19||11||7||2||12||26||2.45||1.21|
|2013 - Todd Redmond||4-3||17||14||0||0||0||0||77.0||70||38||37||13||23||76||4.32||1.21|
|2013 - Esmil Rogers||5-9||46||20||0||0||0||1||137.2||152||76||73||21||44||96||4.77||1.42|
|2013 - Jeremy Jeffress||1-0||10||0||0||0||0||0||10.1||8||1||1||1||5||12||0.87||1.26|
|2013 - Brad Lincoln||1-2||22||0||0||0||0||0||31.2||28||17||14||4||22||25||3.98||1.58|
|2013 - Luis Perez||0-1||6||0||0||0||0||0||5.0||4||3||3||0||2||6||5.40||1.20|
Team control issues. Both Happ and McGowan can be free agents at the end of next year (however, there are team options on both). Rogers will be entering arbitration, others are under long term control.
Can one of these pitchers fill the fourth starter role? Based on recent results, neither Happ nor Rogers has proven anything over a full season to justify being on a contending team in such a role. Redmond had an impressive rookie season, but can he repeat on a bigger scale? McGowan is a pitcher who would fit when healthy (end of discussion). I don’t see any of these as an option if the Blue Jays are serious about contenting.
Can any of these pitchers be DFAed and make it through waivers? Jeffress did so in April, but what he has shown this year I would expect him to be claimed. A case could be made for J.A. Happ, with his $5.2 million guaranteed contract; however he now has five years of service, and Jays would require his consent to be outrighted off the roster. Judging from fact he felt he deserved a spot on major league in spring training this year even before Romero was confirmed as a non-option, I doubt that consent would be given.
I do think all seven have some place in the bullpen of another team’s roster, and they would be claimed. The one way to potentially salvage one would be to use the approach for Jeffress in 2013: waiting a week into the season before designating for assignment and hope all the other teams have filled up their roster.
Do they have trade value? Yes, but highly speculative return. Four of these were actually acquired as major component of trades, with various returns for the opposite team: a) a package of prospects, b) a Lunchbox c) cash d)
the greatest cat. never mind (he who shall not be named).
What to do?
First, as the 40-man roster post reviewed, the Blue Jays currently have enough flexibility to not rush any decision and lose assets immediately--there are enough DFA candidates elsewhere. Can the Jays bring any decent immediate return in that list? Probably not, but they could easily be used to sweeten a bigger deal.
Can anyone be moved to a Top 9 spot? None of the starters warrant a spot as a fourth starter. Starting the season with two of Rogers, Happ, Redmond, or McGowan is not the sign of a contending team.
The relief options are probably better. The core relievers offer some of the best assets value for Alex Anthopoulos to trade this winter. I am a big fan of Jeffress and he would be fine as the third righty in the bullpen. The front office in Toronto seems to not want to use McGowan in such a role, but he also would be on option. Luis Perez, who seemed healthy in his return, fits a LOOGY role, should Loup be dealt away.
Something has to give.
If Jays start the season with all these players on the roster, something has gone really really wrong. The best pitcher in the group can’t really be counted on because of his injury history. I think Lincoln will be the first one gone, then Luis Perez. And one of Rogers, Happ, or Redmond will be traded. McGowan will be either starting or on the 60-day disabled list.
So who do you want to see on 25-man roster next year? Who would you be upset with losing? Do you think any of them can make it to Buffalo and play with Ricky Romero?