In the wake of Jose Bautista’s formal departure as a free agent last year, I looked at the updated ranking of tenure on the Blue Jays roster. That in turn was an update to what I had originally assembled two years prior after 2015. With all the turnover this year as a rebuilding process and youth movement began, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at the updated rankings.
We’ll start with credited MLB service time with the Blue Jays (format: years.days):
Fully half of the 12 players on last year’s list (there was a six-way tie of three years at the bottom) have now departed the organization. Interestingly, despite that turnover, the total service time of the top 10 has actually increased marginally, from about 36 credited years to 37.
Marcus Stroman narrowly tops this list, whereas Kevin Pillar is generally referred to as the longest tenured Blue Jay having debuted in 2013 compared to 2014. Of course, Stroman was effectively in the big leagues for good by mid-2014, whereas Pillar didn’t similarly establish himself until 2015. But the biggest factor in Stroman edging him out is that he got full service credit when he missed most of 2015 after injuring his ACL.
This is not the only somewhat perverse outcome from using service time. Troy Tulowitzki moves up to 7th on this year’s list from outside the top dozen last year despite missing the entire year. At least to some extent, when we’re talking about tenure, we’re talking about on-field tenure.
So I made a second list by active service time, excluding time spent on the major league disabled list. The names overlap quite a bit, but there’s a fair bit of shuffling (note that unlike above, this list is expressed in terms of fractions of a full year, not years.days):
Pillar ascends to what I’d consider his rightful position at the top, but the big mover is Justin Smoak up three spots as he’s never missed time to injuries. The downward movers shouldn’t be surprises. Despite debuting over a year after Tulo was acquired and spending time both on optional assignment and the DL, Danny Barnes has as many active days.
Looking over that list, what’s striking is how different it could look by Opening Day 2019. Between plausible trade targets, non-tender candidates and bubble players, it’s possible upwards of half that list could be gone over the offseason. It would only require four of them being moved for the bottom of the list to have a player with under a full year of active Blue Jays service (Aledmys Diaz, then Randal Grichuk). That’s pretty jarring to think about.
Finally, we can look at tenure in terms of total time with the Blue Jays organization:
If Ryan Tepera remains with the Blue Jays through next July, he will become by my count the 36th player in Blue Jays history to be with the organization for 10 years. He’d the first player to hit that threshold since Adam Lind in 2014 (two weeks after Casey Janssen, who signed earlier in June 2004). Ryan Borucki misses the list by a couple days, having signed in 2012 in mid-July as the signing deadline approached.
There have been no changes to the historical list, but those interested can review them in the post from three years ago.