This Blue Jays offseason has been active. That might be the understatement of the year to be honest. While teams like the Yankees hardly made a notable move up until a few days ago, the Blue Jays transaction page is more jammed than the Maple Leafs bandwagon after a few consecutive wins. Last offseason saw very few moves made with the only big deal being the free agent signing of Dioner Navarro. For all intents and purposes the Opening Week rosters in 2013 and 2014 were essentially the same. That will certainly not be the case when the Blue Jays open the season in New York on April 6th next year.
Since we've seen so much roster turnover in the past few weeks, it seems like a good time to take a peek at just how extreme the changes between the 2015 and 2014 versions of the Blue Jays will be.
The infield experienced a fair amount of roster turnover this year and the changes likely aren't complete with only third base definitely being held down by a new player in Josh Donaldson. Jose Reyes will return to his shortstop position for the third year in a row which should remain a constant sight for Blue Jays fans until at least 2017. Second base hasn't really had a definite starter in a few years so it's kind of a position in constant turnover like a snowball rolling down a hill. It's seems like a solid bet that the player who appears in the most games at second base in 2015 is a player that isn't even on the roster yet. First base will be split between Edwin Encarnacion and Justin Smoak, which is a little bit of a change from the normal Encarnacion and Adam Lind combo that was used the past little while. The catcher position will also feature a new player in Russell Martin who takes over for Dioner Navarro, while the back-up catcher could also be a first-time Blue Jay as well.
The outfield underwent the biggest changes from last season with only Jose Bautista remaining from a group of players that included Melky Cabrera and Colby Rasmus last year. Likely taking their places are soon-to-be 22-year-old Dalton Pompey in centre field and Michael Saunders in left field. Even the fourth outfielder duties split between Anthony Gose and Moises Sierra in early 2014 will be taken over by someone new this season with Kevin Pillar being the only candidate on the roster at this point in time. While the 2014 outfield seemed to be more of a sure thing, this 2015 edition brings a ton of upside with a much lower floor depending on how Pompey and Saunders end up performing.
The starting rotation underwent most of its turnover during the actual season in 2014, with Opening Day starters on the roster in Dustin McGowan and Brandon Morrow losing their jobs through a combination of injuries and bad performances. In stepped Marcus Stroman and a healthy J.A. Happ to complete a core set of five pitchers that started nearly every game for the team after the first month or so. It was expected this solid group would be given another chance to succeed in 2015 but as we know, Happ was shipped out earlier this week to Seattle meaning a new player will appear in the rotation when the team breaks camp in April.
The 2015 bullpen is very far from being set, but it's a guarantee that at least half of the pitchers who eventually make it will not have "Blue Jays Relief Pitcher 2014" on their résumé. Morrow, McGowan, Esmil Rogers, Jeremy Jeffress, Sergio Santos, and Casey Janssen are all gone as well as possible replacements in Kendall Graveman and Sean Nolin. Filling in the holes could be any number of pitchers and likely only Brett Cecil and Aaron Loup are locks to retain their spot in 2015.
Any way you construct your dream roster for Opening Day next year, it's extremely likely that a maximum of 15 players will be returning from the 2014 squad. Compared to last offseason when only two or three spots changed hands, this is a massive turnover for the franchise. Obviously this also allows the media to push a narrative of the players undergoing a feeling out process if they lose a few series' to start the season. Thank goodness for that.