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Blue Jays roster tenure rankings: 2019 update

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Total turnover from the 2018 list

MLB: Los Angeles Angels at Toronto Blue Jays Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports

With the annual roster hoursekeeping to get down to a true 40-man roster complete, it’s time for the now annual look at Blue Jays roster tenure. Last year was defined by turnover, with half of the players occupying 2017’s list having departed one year later. It turns out that was merely a prelude, a warm up act for what was to come as the teardown proceeded in earnest. Further turnover with almost foreseeable, almost inevitable as I wrote last year:

[W]hat’s striking is how different [the list] 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.

But even then the wholesale nature of the turnover is jarring. With Ryan Tepera and Devon Travis becoming free agents last week, the entire top 10 in Blue Jays service at this time last year is gone — in fact, the two beyond that as well, so the top 12. We’ll start with the list by that measure, credited MLB service time with the Blue Jays (format: years.days, with 172 days needed for a full year):

2019 tenure ST

Luke Maile’s current number wouldn’t have put him in the top 12 two years ago, and even after the substantial turnover from that list to 2018 only him and Tesocar would have made it onto the top 10 with their current number. There are no players left who played for the team before 2017 (while Lourdes Gurriel was signed in November 2016, Maile’s first game with the Jays was April 28th after being claimed on waivers earlier that month).

Unlike last years list, where there was plenty of turnover but a depth of tenured players behind to replace them on the list such that the total service time of the top 10 actually increased marginally from about 36 credited years to 37, this year it plunged to about 18 years of credited service.

Credited service is not necessarily the best metric for judging tenure, since it includes time on the injured list or otherwise inactive. As we’ve seen in previous years, that can result in some perverse outcomes when it comes to tenure rankings by service time, as at least to some extent, when we’re talking about tenure, we’re talking about on-field tenure.

So I have a second list by active service time, excluding time spent on the major league disabled list, though it makes little difference this year (note that unlike above, this list is expressed in terms of fractions of a full year, not years.days):

2019 tenure active ST

The top five is the same in the same order, with a little shuffling among the others and Rowdy Tellez replacing Ryan Borucki since he missed almost all of 2019. Here too the totals have plunged more than half, from over 33 years of active Blue Jays service to just over 16.

Here’s exactly how crazy the situation is: the 13th ranked player currently is Vladimir Guerrero Jr. In order words, on next year’s opening day 26-man roster, Vlad will rank in the top half of the roster in terms of time with the Blue Jays having debuted a grand total of six months and two weeks ago.

Finally, we can look at tenure in terms of total time with the Blue Jays organization:

2019 org tenure

In July, Tepera became the 35th player in Blue Jays history to reach 10 years in the organization, the first to do so since 2014. But with no players left from 2009, 2010 or 2011, it’s now assured of the Blue Jays not having another for at least the next two seasons with the earliest possibility being in 2022. Though eight on the list are 40-man players, much higher than usual, so even though there will be attrition, it’s quite possible there could be a bunch in the 2022-23 timeframe.

With the exception of Tepera, there have been no changes to the historical list, which can be reviewed in this 2015 post.