With the offseason being only being a few weeks old there is obviously a long way to go before the roster comes into its final form. With that being said, there has already been a fair bit of turnover with the Blue Jays as a number of mainstays on the roster, including Brandon Morrow, Adam Lind, and Dustin McGowan have all been shown the door. On the flip side, a number of waiver claims and Marco Estrada have been added to the team and look to have a solid shot to break camp with the team in April next year.
The catcher situation currently sits unchanged from last season, which may begin to upset a few people if the 2015 season starts with Dioner Navarro and Josh Thole still on the roster. While there's talk that Navarro may not have been the best framer in the league and certainly wasn't the best defensively overall, he wasn't as bad as previous Blue Jays catchers and that's at least a positive. The Venezuelan has one more year on his deal where he will get paid $5 million in 2015. Josh Thole had his option picked up recently and will come back as R.A. Dickey's personal catcher for $1.75 million. Overall, the team could do worse than these two catchers although there's certainly room for an upgrade if it came along.
The left side of the infield could be locked up for a very long time with Brett Lawrie just be entering his first year of arbitration in 2015, while Jose Reyes' contract runs until at least 2017 with $22 million being owed each season. Second base would currently be manned by Maicer Izturis on his final guaranteed year with the Blue Jays worth $3 million. First base would once again be held down by slugger Edwin Encarnacion who will most certainly earn his $10 million paycheque in 2015. In terms of back-ups, Ryan Goins would likely return as a utility infielder or possibly Steve Tolleson while Justin Smoak could be a suitable back-up at first base assuming he is tendered a contract. It seems like Danny Valencia would currently beat out Juan Francisco for the third base back-up job as he provides a solid amount of value against left-handed pitchers.
The outfield currently sits in a pretty unclear situation with Jose Bautista in right field being the only guarantee at this point in the offseason. John Gibbons recently said Dalton Pompey would start in centre field, which doesn't seem like too bad of an idea although certainly not ideal. If the season started today, some combination of Kevin Pillar, Andy Dirks, Anthony Gose, and John Mayberry Jr. would form the left field position. If I were to guess, I think Gose and Mayberry Jr. would form the platoon at this point in time unless Melky Cabrera comes back to the team or Andy Dirks impresses in Spring Training. The outfield obviously has room for a fair bit of improvement, but the Blue Jays don't seem too worried about giving some of their young guys an opportunity to sink or swim straight from Opening Day in 2015.
The easiest part of the roster to pick at this point in time is the starting rotation, which likely is the same one which ended last season. R.A. Dickey enters the final guaranteed year of his contract ($12 million), as do fellow veterans Mark Buehrle ($20 million) and J.A. Happ (option picked up for $6.7 million). Drew Hutchison just missed out on super-two status thankfully, while Marcus Stroman will also enter 2015 as another pre-arbitration player. There isn't a lot of wiggle room in the starting rotation at this point, with the only possible shakeup coming by way of a trade involving one of the three veterans (likely J.A. Happ).
The bullpen will undergo a fair bit of change before the team opens Spring Training in March, but currently Aaron Loup, Marco Estrada, Steve Delabar, and Brett Cecil are almost sure things to have a relief role at this point in time. The three remaining spots (yes three, not four) could end up going to anyone including Chad Jenkins, Liam Hendriks, Aaron Sanchez, Kyle Drabek, Todd Redmond, Kendall Graveman, Sean Nolin, Daniel Norris. The bullpen has a chance to be solid once again in 2015 if the younger guys continue to perform like everyone expects them to in 2015.
Most people expect the designated hitter role to be shared at this point in time to give the star players more rest than they got in 2015. This would mean that the bench players in Smoak, Mayberry Jr., Valencia, and Goins would spell the starters in the field in a rotating type of deal, while guys like Encarnacion, Lawrie, Reyes, and Bautista would occupy the DH role to rest their legs.
That brings the roster to 25 players with three infield bench players and only one outfield substitute, which may not be what the Blue Jays want to do considering all the inexperience in the outfield. The clear holes in the team are at second base, left and centre field, plus the high-leverage spots in the bullpen. There's a long way to go in the offseason but the Blue Jays don't look horrible at this point and still have a small amount of payroll to work with if the reports are to be believed. What do you folks disagree with? Should Andy Dirks be the left fielder instead of the platoon I outlined or should Ryan Goins start over Maicer Izturis?