At the end of every season when free agent declarations and other roster housekeeping is complete I like to take a look at roster tenure among Toronto Blue Jays players and the organization more broadly. I didn’t get around to it at the end of last year as intended, but with the offseason remaining frozen, I wanted to circle back around it.
There are different ways of measuring tenure, and that can make a significant difference in a ranking of tenure. When I started tracking this in 2015, I was using total time in the organization and credit service time with the Blue Jays since I had them from other purposes. I’ve since added a couple additional measures.
Active service was first added because chronically injured players accumulate service time without having on-field impact. This is essentially the number of days during the season the player was available to the active roster (excluding extended injuries, suspensions, and various other inactive stints). Personally, this is my preferred measure. Earliest debut is another means by which a player could be considered the longest standing Blue Jay.
As recently as 2019, these methods gave different answers (Teoscar Hernandez by service time, Randal Grichuk by active service, Anthony Alford by earliest debut). Last year they had converged at least for the purposes of the 40-man, but this year there’s again a little divergence.
One recent complication is the proration of service time due to shortened seasons, in 2020 and likely for 2022 at this point. This creates a bit of a conundrum when it comes to comparing across years, as a partial full season can represent more actual days of service but less credited service time. Trent Thornton, Anthony Kay and Nate Pearson all had more actual days of service time in 2021 than 2021, but were credited with less service time.
What I have decided is to order the service time list by the credited service time rather than actual days, though I show that as well. However, since the purpose of the active service list was basically to have a ranking of days in uniform, that will be done on the basis of actual days.
Service time ranking
Starting with credited MLB service time with the Blue Jays (format: years.days, with 172 days needed for a full year), the leader is the same as last year:
Teoscar Hernandez retains the pole position he has held since Luke Maile was non-tendered in December 2019. Assuming there is a season and he remains with the Jays at the major league level, he should at some point become the first player to reach five years of major league service with the Jays since 2019.
Whereas two years ago no player had three years of service with the Jays and only three had two or more, it now takes almost three years to even make the list. The only name not carried over from last year is Rowdy Tellez, though Trent Thornton slides three posts having spent a couple months optioned.
There’s the curiousity of Danny Jansen having more days of service than Ryan Borucki, yet slightly less credited service time. That’s due to him accruing days more days above the 172 threshold from 2019 to 2021 that don’t add to service time. Tim Mayza takes the biggest hit in this regard, since all of his service time is in full seasons with no proration having missed 2020 entirely.
Active service ranking
Having missed 24 days in 2021 to injury and paternity leave, Teoscar now edges out Grichuk by the literal slimmest of margins, with just one more day of active service. When counting by fractional seasons, Grichuk would actually be ahead since he had three more in 2020. That was about 5% more, whereas Teoscar’s net of four days otherwise is only about 2% of a typical full season.
There’s a little bit of shuffling from last year’s list, but what’s remarkable is the degree of stability with the only change being Bo Bichette entering at the bottom in lieu of Tellez. Two years ago, the active service time of the top 10 totaled only around 16 seasons, which rose to about 20 last year and now just under 28 seasons.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. has not had any inactive stints since reaching the majors (Bichette, Grichuk and Marcus Semien were the only others in 2021). Should that continue in 2022, it’s conceivable he could leapfrog Jansen and/or Lourdes Gurriel Jr., both or whom have lost time in previous seasons.
Tenure by earliest debut
Following Alford’s departure in 2020, Teoscar was generally referred to as the Blue Jays with the earliest debut, and that was true if limited to the 40-man roster. But as last year’s list indicated, organizationally it was actually Tim Mayza and with his successful return in 2021, he’s now the undisputedly atop the list.
The top six names remain unchanged, but the departures of Sean Reid-Foley, Rowdy Tellez and Jonathan Davis introduce 2019 debutants onto the list. That’s half the six (remaining) players who made their Blue Jays debut that year, with Bo Bichette next. Hyun-Jin Ryu is 14th with the earliest 2020 debut, and it’s possible he makes next year’s list.
Organizational tenure ranking
There there are only eight players who have been Blue Jays prior to 2016 and the front office coming in (down from 11 last year, and double digits looking for every prior year tracked when looking six years backwards). Though given some of the new additions (Bichette would be the next name, having signed a day after the 2016 draftees listed), there should be more stability next year.
If Ryan Borucki remains with the Jays through at least the middle of 2022, he will be become by my count the 36th player in franchise history to have been in the organization for 10 years. He would be the first to attain the milestone since Ryan Tepera three years ago.
With the exception of Tepera, there have been no changes to the historical list, which can be reviewed in this 2015 post. At some point in the near future, I plan to revise and refresh those lists to be more precise on service time and include active service rankings.