Spring training is getting closer (yay, it seems like this has been the longest of off-seasons, I would so much love to have actual baseball to talk about), so I thought we could start looking at the few spots where there is some question as to who will be filling them (talk about your awkward sentences, but let's leave it, you know what I meant).
In the outfield, barring injury or something else bad happening, we should be looking at an outfield of Michael Saunders, Dalton Pompey and Jose Bautista. I think we'll be happy with that group, though I'm hoping that Alex and Gibby can develop the patience to deal with a slow start from Pompey, if he has one. If he's got the job in center, leave him there for 200 or 300 at bats, instead of shipping him out if he has a bad week or two.
With the way the Jays like to overstock the bullpen and the strong possibility that we might have 3 catchers on the roster (in both cases I'm hoping not, but I've watched this team put together their roster for too long to expect they won't do the things that drive me crazy), I doubt there will be room for the 2 extra outfielders that I would perfer them to carry. Maybe we'll be lucky and they will have two extras outfielders, but, for the sake of this exercise, let's say they will only carry one extra. Who should they pick?
Kevin Pillar: Kevin has a leg up on the rest of the players fighting for the spot, he is the only on currently on the 40-man roster. Kevin can play pretty good defense in all three outfield spots. He's a right-handed bat, so he'd be a natural platoon for Saunders. His Streamer projected batting line is .266/.301/.398. There isn't much for power there, but you could do worse for a late game pinch hitter.
Ezequiel Carrera: Ezequiel was a signed a minor league contract and has a spring invite. He's a left-handed batter, he's had some MLB experience, he's played 176 games over the past four years. He's played all three outfield, mostly center field. He has some speed, 25 career steals, he could fill the Anthony Gose spot of late game pinch runner and defensive replacement. Career he has a .253/.305/.340 line. Steamer projects him to have a .256/.311/.349 line next year. UZR doesn't like his defense all that much, giving him a -2.4 UZR/150 over his 1058 career outfield innings.
Andy Dirks: Dirks was picked up off waivers from the Tigers, released and then signed as a minor league free agent, with a spring invite, saving the Jays a fair bit of money over what he would have been awarded in arbitration. He is another left-handed bat and he's played all three outfield spots in the majors, though not all that much in CF. In 297 games, over 3 seasons, he's hit .276/.332/.413. He does have a little bit of pop in his bat. Steamer thinks he only will get 1 at bat next season, but still figures he will have a .262/.321/.397 line (projection systems are strange).
Caleb Gindl: Caleb is another minor league free agent signing with a spring invite. He's a left-handed batter too. He's played a little less MLB ball than the others, 65 games, hitting .232/.335/.404. He's played all three outfield spots in the minors. Steamer has him hitting .234/.301/.370 this year. UZR doesn't think much of his defense, giving him a -10.5 for his 340 MLB innings.
The Jays also have invited Anthony Alford and Dwight Smith Jr. to their major league spring training camp, but that's more to give them a taste of what it is like, though, I could see Smith getting a call up later in the season.
There is a good chance they will find someone else to compete for the spot during spring training. There are always players released late in spring, but since we have no idea who might be available, let's just vote on these four.