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Predicting the Toronto Blue Jays Opening Day Roster

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With Spring Training now here, I try to predict the Blue Jays Opening Day Roster

MLB: ALCS-Cleveland Indians at Toronto Blue Jays Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

The Blue Jays have had a quiet off-season, but with most holes filled and spring training here, I’ll take a shot at predicting what the opening day roster will look like.

Starters

  • Aaron Sanchez
  • Marco Estrada
  • J.A. Happ
  • Marcus Stroman
  • Francisco Liriano

The Jays starters are set in stone, it will just be setting the rotation up, and who starts opening day. The Jays rotation will have to play a massive role again if the Jays want to return to the post-season. As last year, the Jays rotation kept them afloat when there bats went cold which happened quite often last season. However the Jays got lucky with no big injuries to their rotation last season and you can’t expect to be that lucky again. Most fans wouldn’t want to see Lucas Harrell or Mike Bolsinger some games.

Bullpen

  • Joe Smith
  • Mike Bolsinger
  • Aaron Loup
  • J.P. Howell
  • Joe Biagini
  • Jason Grilli
  • Roberto Osuna

The Jays bullpen on paper definitely won’t scare many teams, like the Cleveland Indians bullpen does, but the Jays do have quality arms. Mike Bolsinger is out of options and, I think, he will be the long-man in the bullpen and possibly a spot starter if Gibbons wants to rest a starter. Howell’s spot is guaranteed. If Bolsinger fails to make the roster Glenn Sparkman may be the guy to watch out for but for now if they Jays want a long man it is Bolsinger. Loup has the inside track to the 2nd lefty job. The final 3 is locked up as Biagini, Grilli and Osuna will be the 7th, 8th and 9th inning guys, assuming Biagini isn’t starting in AAA Buffalo which I don’t think he will. As well Joe Smith adds much needed depth to the middle relief as when Osuna needs a day off him or Howell can slide into the 7th inning spot.

Catchers

  • Russell Martin
  • Jarrod Saltalamacchia

The Jays went into the off-season needing a backup catcher and the Jays just recently signed Saltalamacchia to a minor-league deal and seems to have the inside track over Juan Graterol and Reese McGuire (the catcher of the future). As out of that group McGuire will most likely give Saltalamacchia the biggest scare as McGuire is slowly working up the organization ranks and looks ready to be in the big leagues although a year in AA or AAA might be best. Although the backup will most likely only play 40-50 games as most would have to think Martin will start 110-120 games barring any unforeseeable injury.

1st Base and Designated Hitter

  • Justin Smoak
  • Kendrys Morales (DH)
  • Steve Pearce (OF/1B)

The Jays 1st base spot definitely got worse over the off-season with Encarnacion signing with Cleveland. The Jays did add utility man Steve Pearce to platoon at first with Justin Smoak, who with the right match up can be a useful batter with above average defence. Most Jays fans dislike Justin Smoak, who was re-signed to a contract extension last season, and will have to show his worth or the Jays may be forced to move on and go younger with highly touted Rowdy Tellez late in the year. As for the DH spot Morales is the replacement for EE. Last season in a pitcher friendly ballpark in Kansas City, he hit 30 homeruns with 93 RBI’s and a .263 AVG. You have to think those numbers will either improve or stay around the same moving to the Rogers Centre. Morales could play a few games at first, to allow DH time for others.

2nd Base

  • Devon Travis
  • Darwin Barney

Assuming Travis can stay healthy, the Jays will roll with him and Barney, ultimately meaning Ryan Goins will be placed on waivers, if he gets claimed, that would his time in Toronto. Although with Travis he needs to show he can stay healthy as middle infielder prospect Richard Urena figures to be a year away.

Shortstop

  • Troy Tulowitzki

Is this even a question? Tulo will head into his 2nd full season with the Jays and anchor the defense alongside Josh Donaldson. Tulo last season hit .254 with 24 home runs and 79 RBI’s. Those stats should be around the same as Tulo is now comfortable in the Rogers Centre. As well Tulo’s defense will be a huge part of the Jays success especially with the bullpen as with the signings of Joe Smith and J.P. Howell both ground ball pitchers will rely heavily on the middle infield. As for the backup it will be Darwin Barney who will be the backup infielder on this Jays roster.

3rd Base

  • Josh Donaldson

Just like the shortstop there isn’t a question. Donaldson will head into spring training and once again be a leader on this Jays roster that saw Encarnacion leave. For the Jays the hope is Donaldson keep up the offense from his first two seasons as a blue bird. Once again Barney figures to backup Donaldson when he needs a day off which isn’t that often as Donaldson is a pure warrior.

Right Field

  • Jose Bautista

Bautista is back in Toronto and definitely has something to prove. After going to free agency after a injury riddled season Bautista decided to re-up with the Jays on a one year deal to hopefully increase his value come next season. Bautista’s health concern for the Blue Jays as Bautista have missed a fair bit of time the past couple of season. However I fully expect a bounce back season for Bautista as he will have a chip on his shoulder.

Center Field

  • Kevin Pillar

Superman will be roaming center again this year, and having the Rogers Centre as a no fly zone. Pillar’s defence is his calling card as he should have already won a Gold Glove, and the Jays are hoping Pillar can replicate his offensive success last season. As Pillar hit a very respectable .266 with 7 homeruns and 53 RBI’s, along with a .679 OPS. As well Pillar’s offence was good facing both lefties and right handed pitchers as against RHP Pillar hit .261 compared to a .283 batting average against lefties.

Left Field

  • Melvin Upton Jr.
  • Ezequiel Carrera

Sorry Dalton Pompey fans but I don’t think Pompey can make this team and at 25 already his time and if he fails to make the roster, the Jays should move him as a fresh start would benefit Pompey tremendously. As for left field, it is a mess as with no one added and Michael Saunders leaving the Jays will open the season with Upton Jr. and Zeke Carrera, not the best duo. There is a chance Steve Pearce sees a lot of time in left field if Upton Jr. and Carrera don’t work. As well there is a possibility the Jays pick up an outfielder of waivers or perhaps Anthony Alford plays his way onto this team or Darell Ceciliani has a tremendous spring, but for now it is Upton Jr. and Carrera.