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Taking Stock of the Blue Jays Roster and Depth Chart

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What might the roster look like if the season were to start today?

Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Since there's basically nothing Blue Jays related going on these days, let's look forward a couple months and get a sense of what the opening day roster could look like with the players currently in the organization. There will be roster changes between now and opening day, maybe—hopefully—some substantial ones, but in the interim we'll work with what we've got.

Largely owing to a liberal use of waiver claims (seven and counting this winter), the Jays have a full 40-man roster. Come opening day, all players on the 40-man must be on the active roster unless they are on optional assignment. So we can start by placing all 40-man players who cannot be optioned on the roster. That is not always the easiest information to find, but fortunately here at Bluebird Banter we track and regularly update this in the Option and Outright Status entry in the Library links available on the main page. Below is an abridged version of that entry for the current 40-man roster:

Player Pos. 2015 Option? Player Pos. 2015 Option?
Jose Bautista RF No A.J. Jimenez C Yes
Scott Barnes LHP No Aaron Loup LHP Yes
Mark Buerhle LHP No Russell Martin C No
Cory Burns RHP Yes Dioner Navarro C No
Brett Cecil LHP No Daniel Norris LHP Yes
Chris Colabello 1B Yes Juan Pablo Oramas LHP Yes
Steve Delabar RHP Yes Kevin Pillar OF Yes
R.A. Dickey RHP No Dalton Pompey CF Yes
Josh Donaldson 3B No Rob Rasmussen LHP Yes
Kyle Drabek RHP No Todd Redmond RHP No
Edwin Encarnacion DH No Jose Reyes SS No
Marco Estrada RHP No Aaron Sanchez RHP Yes
Ryan Goins SS Yes Michael Saunders LF Yes
Preston Guilmet RHP Yes Bo Schultz RHP Yes
Matt Hague 1B/3B Yes Justin Smoak 1B No
Liam Hendriks RHP No Marcus Stroman RHP Yes
Drew Hutchison RHP Yes Ryan Tepera RHP Yes
Colt Hynes LHP Yes Josh Thole C Yes
Maicer Izturis IF No Steve Tolleson IF No
Chad Jenkins RHP Yes Danny Valencia 3B No

You can see that 18 of the 40 cannot be optioned, which goes a long way towards filling up the 25-man active roster. Of the 18, nine are on guaranteed contracts. Another four (Estrada, Cecil, Valencia, Donaldson) are arbitration-eligible who were tendered 2015 contracts, leaving five pre-arb guys with no options (Tolleson, Drabek, Redmond, Hendriks, Barnes). Other than Redmond, none of the five are locks to make the opening day roster and are potential DFA candidates if 40-man spots are needed. But for now we'll assume they're in.

That leaves seven spots to fill from the 22 with options. There are four clear locks based on past performance: Stroman, Hutchison, Loup, and Saunders. Despite ambiguity from the team about his role, for this exercise Sanchez is included as a fifth lock since the current roster lacks for strong relievers. That brings the total to 23, and lines up as follows:

Pos. No Options Lock Need 40 Man Other
C Martin Thole
1B Smoak Collabello
2B Izturis Goins D. Travis
3B Donaldson Hague
SS Reyes
LF Saunders C. Gindl
CF Pompey E. Carrera
RF Bautista R. Kalish1
DH Encarnacion D. Barton
SP1 Dickey D. Norris J. Francis
SP2 Buehrle R. Romero
SP3 Stroman
SP4 Hutchison
SP5 Estrada
C Navarro Jimenez
IF Tolleson J. Diaz
OF Pillar B. Glenn
Util Valencia J. Fox
BP1 Cecil Rasmussen A. Albers
BP2 Loup C. Burns B. Burke
BP3 Sanchez Delabar B. Korecky
BP4 Redmond Jenkins G. Infante
BP5 Drabek Tepera W. Lopez
BP6 Hendriks Oramas
BP7 Barnes Guilmet
Hynes
Schultz

1 - Editor's note: Ryan Kalish's minor league contract was not completed due to an unknown reason, according to Sportsnet's Shi Davidi in a report that came just after this piece was published.

Assuming a seven man bullpen (please!), that fills out the pitching staff and infield but only two outfield spots. That means the last two outfield spots go to the only other two outfielders on the 40-man, Pompey and Pillar, who make up the "needs" column. Estrada is slotted as the 5th starter, I could see Redmond or Hendriks potentially there. It's basically the only question mark I see with the current 40-man. In reality, some of the relievers left off the active roster have real shots to make the opening day roster at the fringes over some of the out of options players assumed safe for now. But one takeaway is that unlike the last few years the Jays can hypothetically carry keep everyone currently on the 40-man if they choose, without needing injuries to open up spots or going with a 8-man bullpen.

The next column shows the other 15 players on the 40-man left outside the 25-man projection, which is overloaded with potential relievers. The last column shows players not on the 40-man but with previous MLB experience as well as Devon Travis and Greg Infante who could potentially figure into the mix.

This also highlights the areas of weakness that should come as no surprise to most. Other than at catcher, the Jays lack quality depth up the middle, and lack established starting options at second base and in centrefield. The bullpen lacks in impact arms, on the other hand there's a rich assortment of potential options to choose from.

How would your opening day squad differ from the above based on the current roster?