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How will upcoming decisions shake up the roster?

Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

In the coming days, the Blue Jays are going to have to do some fairly significant roster shuffling to accommodate up to five major league players eligible and ready to come off the disabled or restricted list. Let's take a look at how things could play out.

The most immediate decision will be around Franklin Morales, as today (Wed. July 20) marked the last of his 30 day rehab assignment, so some action will have to be taken immediately, either activating him or cutting bait. If he's activated, presumably he would supplement supplant Aaron Loup as the second/situation lefty, and since Loup has options this is probably the path of least resistance. On the other hand, it's not clear that Morales was signed to be anything other than a temporary fill-in for Loup in the first place, and they may be happy to cut bait on him, especially if another team wanted to take the contract. It may be telling that Morales has spent the entire 30 days on rehab despite seemingly being able well in advance.

The next move will be activating Estrada for Friday's start, which will return the roster to five starters and likely means going back to a seven man bullpen. Loup and Bo Schultz are the only relievers with options (other than Roberto Osuna), so Schultz would be a likely candidate given that Loup will either make room for Morales or be the second lefty.

However, Schultz has been pretty effective, showing good stuff. They could opt to keep him and an 8 man bullpen, and go with a short 3-man bench. Andy Burns currently occupies that spot, but has been used sparing especially with no more interleague and was ticketed for Buffalo anyway when Ryan Goins was back. So that would mean optioning Goins, or at least leaving him in Buffalo on rehab for the indeterminate future. I'm not really a fan of the 8 man pen, but they've done it before.

Then there's Chris Colabello, who will have completed his 80 game suspended, and homered in his first AAA rehab start before a Platinum Sombrero today. It's a bit of a wild card, but I can't imagine he comes right back onto the major league roster, especially since he has option years remaining. It's worth noting with Rowdy Tellez on the DL and New Hampshire not having a true first baseman, that could be a logical opportunity to get him everyday at-bats and see how he does (Buffalo already has Casey Kotchman and Jesus Montero).

Finally, when Jose Bautista is ready to return, likely early next week, it seems inevitable that Junior Lake is the odd man out. He's out of options, so they theoretically they could carry five outfielders to avoid exposing him to waivers, with a 7 man pen and just Darwin Barney as a backup infielder. But is Lake that inimitable that you take all steps to avoid losing him? I suppose with Bautista and Saunders not 100%, five outfielders could make sense anyway.

There are also 40-man considerations. Somewhat paradoxically, the Blue Jays currently have 42 players on their 40-man, since players on the restricted list (Colabello) and 60-day DL (Morales) aren't counted towards the 40. But with both of them imminently exiting those statuses, they will again towards towards the limit and each will require opening up a 40 man spot (unless the Jays cut ties with them instead).

The first spot is probably moving Gavin Floyd from the 15 day DL to the 60 day DL, since he's already been gone 24 days and isn't expected back until September if at all this year. A second spot could be pretty straightforward as well, if Junior Lake is removed for the 40-man when Bautista is back.

Beyond that, they'd be looking at removing someone from the 40 man. There's plenty of candidates, but a few stick out based on being more marginal and having limited options. Ben Rowen has spent the whole year in Buffalo without seemingly being in consideration for a call-up, and will be out of options after this season. It's hard to see him on the 40 man in next April, or helping before then. Likewise though less so, Matt Dominguez is in the same boat and though he's actually been up this year and has more MLB experience, he's firmly behind Barney and Goins in the backup infielder/utility pecking order, and maybe Andy Burns too.

And with the trade deadline in 11 days, there will likely be even more shakeup. But that's for another day.

See Also: Blue Jays Option and Outright Status Table