2021 Toronto Blue Jays Opening Day Roster Looking Clearer

Alejandro Kirk

The Toronto Blue Jays have announced that they have contacted almost all of their players who are “on the bubble” for the Opening Day with the news of their inclusion. Particularly, Charlie Montoyo has told media that he informed Alejandro Kirk, Trent Thornton, Tim Mayza and Rowdy Tellez that they will be on the roster. They’ll be joining Joe Panik and Jonathan Davis on the roster.

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There are still a few questions as to how the roster will be made up for Opening Day. Who will the last man in the bullpen be? Who will start on the injured list to begin the year? Those two questions will certainly inform whether they Blue Jays have to expose either Reese McGuire or Breyvic Valera to waivers.

That final bullpen spot will likely go to either Julian Merryweather, Francisco Liriano or Anthony Castro while Gregor Chisholm reports that A.J. Cole is in the running but likelier to start at the Alternate Training Site. Of these four, only Merryweather is on the 40-man roster.

Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet posted his depth chart on Instagram, detailing how the roster will likely break down. He believes that Kirby Yates (Tommy John surgery), Nate Pearson (groin), Thomas Hatch (elbow), Robbie Ray (bruised elbow) and George Springer (oblique) could start the year on the injured list (with Nicholson-Smith believing that there is a chance that Springer starts on the roster).

Right now, the Blue Jays will need to create roster space for Panik and Mayza with McGuire and/or Valera possibly getting DFA’ed. If it were to just be the two of them joining the Opening Day roster, Kirby Yates will be placed on the 60-day IL and one of McGuire or Valera will be DFA’ed. Otherwise, if the Jays choose to add Liriano, Castro or Cole to the Opening Day Roster, it would be an additional roster spot that needs to be found. Both Valera and McGuire are out of minor league options, meaning that they would need to clear waivers before they get sent to the minors.


So how does the Blue Jays’ roster look to stack up?

The Blue Jays have announced that Hyun-jin Ryu would start on Opening Day and the Jays likely have Tanner Roark, Steven Matz, Ross Stripling and one of T.J. Zeuch or Anthony Kay to follow. Do the Jays go with a six-man rotation and have both Zeuch and Kay start? That’s a big question although the Jays could keep one of the two and option the other to the Alternate Training Site to start the year. Apparently, Trent Thornton is going to be used in a long relief role, but he could also return to the starting rotation at some point.


In the bullpen, Jordan Roman, Rafael Dolis, David Phelps, Tyler Chatwood, Ryan Borucki, Thornton and Mayza have been told they’ll make the squad, leaving the eighth spot for Merryweather, Liriano or Castro. Nicholson-Smith surmises that the Jays could bring nine relievers as well.

My big question for the bullpen is whether the Jays might ask some pitchers like Chatwood, Borucki and Thornton (and maybe Merryweather) to throw multiple innings regularly if they’re holding back some of the starters, particularly in May. All three have been starters at some point in their careers, most recently Thornton, and I could see some four-inning starts out of the starters followed by two or three-inning outings by one of these guys.


On the offensive side, we’ll have Danny Jansen and Alejandro Kirk catching while Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Marcus Semien, Bo Bichette and Cavan Biggio will make up the starting infield. Rowdy Tellez and Joe Panik will back up on the infield. Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Randal Grichuk and Teoscar Hernandez will likely start in the outfield if George Springer begins the season on the IL with Jonathan Davis as the fourth outfielder.

With Davis being told he made the team, if Springer is able to play on Opening Day, then the Blue Jays will need to find someone else to go to make room.


Most of the decisions are set as the Jays would have 12 batters without Springer and 13 with him. Pitching wise, the Jays have 13 pitchers if they keep only one of Zeuch or Kay and one of Merryweather, Castro or Liriano. If Springer starts on the IL and the Jays decide to keep another pitcher (I believe that MLB isn’t limiting pitchers to 13 players in 2021), they could start with 14 pitchers rather than 13. If the Jays want to go with 13 of each and Springer is going to begin on the IL, they could keep one of McGuire or Valera, particularly if Merryweather opens with the big club (meaning that the Jays need only two 40-man roster spots and will only have to DFA one players with Yates moving to the 60-day IL).

Yup, it’s complicated and there are still several moving parts. But we’ll see in just a couple of days!


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