With 5 games left on the 2013 schedule, roster decisions are abound for the Blue Jays in the coming weeks. The 40-Man Roster currently stands at 46 due to 6 players being members of the large 60 Day DL, meaning at least 6 spots will need to be opened up for the off-season. A few more spots will have to be opened as well so players who are eligible for the Rule 5 Draft and have the talent/promise needed to be taken in that draft come December will be protected from it. Some Blue Jays minor leaguers who find themselves in that situation are Marcus Walden, Santiago Nessy, Kenny Wilson, and Deck McGuire, but more on those guys a different day. By my count, there are 7 pitchers and 2 position player that could find themselves off the roster by November 20th, when the 40 man must be set, or even earlier, come 5 days after the World Series, when injured players must be reinstated from the DL. They are:
Jeremy Jeffress-Relief Pitcher
Jeffress was acquired last November from the Royals for some cash(on the same day the Maicer Izturis deal went down), and cracked the team out of spring training. After one appearance in which he allowed 2 walks and a home run while pitching through an inning, he was designated for assignment by the Blue Jays and removed from the 40-man roster. 5 months and around 32 minor league innings later, he was made a September call up, and has pitched in an additional 7 games this month. Although the sample is way too small to judge, the control, which has been the flamethrower’s largest problem has still not improved, meaning his time on the Blue Jays roster has most likely come to an end. His saving grace might be that he has a laser arm that reaches triple digits regularly, so AA might be reluctant to let go of him so easily.
Josh Johnson- Starting Pitcher
Johnson has made his way from being the best starting pitcher in the National League over a 3 year period by many metrics to wondering if he will even get a qualifying offer before free agency starts at the beginning of November. He came over to Toronto from the Marlins as the centrepiece of the deal, and has since has his worst season as a professional, pitching to a 6.20 ERA over 81 and a third innings, while allowing home runs at a rate of 1.66/9, more than double his previous career worst(0.80 set in 2006). When not being completely dreadful, he found himself on the disable list(as he is right now), unable to pitch due to multiple injuries. Whether the Blue Jays bring him back or not remains a mystery, but odds are he isn’t back, and as soon as he files for free agency, his spot on the 40-Man Roster will open up.
Darren Oliver- Relief Pitcher
Oliver decided to give it one more go in 2013, and although he hasn’t bad horrible, he hasn’t been his usual self either. Home runs are an issue, and they are what has led to his 4.15 FIP. Since he was expected to retire after 2012, but didn’t, once can reasonably assume 2013 has been his last pro season, and that he’ll enter the off-season as a free agent but probably will decide to hand up his cleats and forego signing with a new team. Either way, the Blue Jays bullpen picture for 2014 is crowded without him, so whether he decides to retire or not, it is safe to say he will not be a Blue Jay next year. Oliver ‘s 40 man spot will definitely be open in the coming weeks.
Ramon Ortiz- Starting Pitcher
Ortiz had no business being a major league pitcher this year, but since the Blue Jays suffered so many injuries, he was called upon to make 7 appearances, 4 of which were starts in 2013. The benefit to Ortiz was that when he got injured as a Major Leaguer in June, he got put on the Major League DL, meaning he got paid for the rest of the season as a MLB player. Ortiz was his usual self in his brief healthy period with the Blue Jays, which was downright awful, and by no means should he be re-signed as a major league player by any team, let alone the Jays. He will file for free Agency after the World Series, and his spot will be open for another player to take.
Juan Perez- Relief Pitcher
I’m not even 100% sure what Perez’ contract situation is like, but I think the Blue Jays could retain him for league minimum next season if they wanted to. He was pretty good this year in a little more than 30 innings out of the bullpen, but I’d trust the number he has put up before his age 34 season than the ones he put up in a small sample 7 years after his original major league debut. He’ll probably be signed to a minor league deal by some team with an invite to spring training because of the success he showed this year if he is a free agent, but if his right are still owned by the Blue Jays, being designated for assignment is definitely possible.
Mickey Storey- Relief Pitcher
Storey is a AAAA pitcher, and because there are so many like him, he’ll be designated for assignment, because if he is claimed, there is really no loss. He is easily replaceable. Another spot open.
Thad Weber- Starter/ Reliever
Just like Storey, Weber is a AAAA guy who will be taken off the roster if his spot is needed. He’s had success in a 15 inning stint this season in Toronto, but again, SSS, so it shouldn’t play a factor in determining his future.
Mike Nickeas- Catcher
Nickeas came over in the Dickey deal with the Mets as insurance just in case Josh Thole was injured and nobody could catch the knuckleball, but if it wasn’t for that “skill” of his, he wouldn’t be above AA right now. He isn’t a major league catcher, but fins himself as the 3rd September Catcher on this team because A.J Jimenez is injured. He’ll be removed from the 40 man as soon as it’s possible.
Rajai Davis- Outfielder
The speedster has performed great for the Blue Jays in his 3 years playing as the 4th outfielder north of the border, but he is a free agent this year, and it will cost too much to bring him back. For a bench role, Anthony Gose could play it just as well, and even add gold glove defense, something Davis knew nothing about. Davis will get paid, and good for him. His speed has been very fun to watch, but his time in Toronto has come to an end.
I completely forgot Ricky Romero exists when I was writing this article, hence he was left out of the original post. But, thanks to twitter, I was reminded Ricky Romero does in fact exist, and he actually occupies a spot on the Blue Jays 40 man roster. Because he does, I’ll add in a paragraph about him, and recently promoted Ryan Langerhans, who has no business being in the Major Leagues right now.
Ricky Romero- Starting Pitcher
The 2011 All Star was off the 40 man for a couple of months this season, but was added back for September. Because he is owed more than $15 million in the next 3 years, and he is hopelessly bad at this point, there is no reason not to expose him to waivers and let him get claimed. When he doesn’t, because even Ruben Amaro is smart enough not to claim Ricky Romero, he can resume being a supremely overpaid minor league pitcher who couldn’t find the strike zone consistently if his life depended on it.
Ryan Langerhans- Outfielder?
Ryan Langerhans was playing for the Sugar Land Skeeters a couple of months ago. Ryan Langerhans is not a major league baseball player. He even struggles to hit AAA pitching. What can Ryan Langerhans do? He can put up an OBP over .400 in the Atlantic League. That leaves 2 options for the Jays. Take him off the 40 man because he is useless, or make him the starting catcher. Either one is fine.