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Better Know Your Blue Jays 40-man: Nathan Lukes

Toronto Blue Jays Photo Day Photo by Mike Carlson/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Nathan Lukes is a 28-year-old, left-handed hitting outfielder. The Blue Jays signed him as a minor league free agent at the end of November 2021. In November 2022, he was added to the 40-man roster.

Cleveland drafted him in the seventh round of the 2015 draft. He was traded to the Rays in 2016 (for Brandon Guyer, who played 211 games for Cleveland in three seasons).

Nathan hasn’t made it to the majors yet, but he’s played 626 games in the minors, hitting .277/.340/.401. Last year he played 111 games for the Bisons, hitting .285/.364/.425 with 11 home runs and 20 stolen bases. It was enough to have the team considering bringing him up to the majors, but that talk ended when we picked up Whit Merrifield.

Lukes has played all outfield positions in the minors, mostly in center. He doesn’t have the reputation of being a great defensive center fielder, but if he were a fourth outfielder in the majors, we would be okay with seeing him out there sometimes.

You’ll likely remember he had excellent numbers in spring training last year, with a 1.147 OPS. But he wasn’t on the 40-man then, and Gosuke Katoh got the 26th-man spot (we would have been better off with Lukes and better off with him over Bradley Zimmer).

Nathan is a long shot at making the major league team this year. But he has all three option years left, so as long as he hits well, the team won’t be in a hurry to let him go. If there are injuries in the outfield, he could get a call-up.

He has someone new to battle for the emergency call-up spot. The Jays signed Wynton Bernard to a minor league contract with a spring invite. Wynton is 32 and has the same profile: an outfield, minor league lifer, who can play all three outfield spots, has some speed, and no power to speak of, but Bernard broke through and got 12 games of MLB experience with the Rockies last year.

The biggest difference is that Wynton is a right-handed batter. So with two left-handed hitting outfielders, if they want a fourth outfielder who can occasionally platoon in center or left, Wynton could be the choice.

Since Lukes has a 40-man roster spot, he has a leg up if all is equal. But if Bernard has a much better spring and Lukes doesn’t, Bernard could take Lukes’ 40-man spot and get the call-up. Wynton has two option years left, but at 32, one less option year isn’t a big deal.

Steamer doesn’t believe Lukes will get playing time this year. It guesses he will get just 39 MLB plate appearances (but then it only figures Wynton to get one PA).


If the over/under on Lukes MLB PA is 39 I’d take the

This poll is closed

  • 40%
    (124 votes)
  • 59%
    (185 votes)
309 votes total Vote Now


Who will get more playing time with the Jays?

This poll is closed

  • 44%
    Nathan Lukes
    (142 votes)
  • 17%
    Wynton Bernard
    (56 votes)
  • 38%
    Neither will play with the team
    (122 votes)
320 votes total Vote Now


By September Lukes will be

This poll is closed

  • 19%
    A Blue Jay
    (62 votes)
  • 57%
    A Bison
    (179 votes)
  • 23%
    In another organization
    (72 votes)
313 votes total Vote Now