Roster Moves Illuminate Elusive Grasp on Baseball Employment

Darin Mastroianni
Darin Mastroianni


Wow, so that’s a mouthful for a title of a baseball blog post. Perhaps it’s due to me getting back into the academic writing phase of the year or maybe I just want to sound haughty and pretentious.



With an off day on September 2, the Blue Jays waited a day before officially announcing their September call ups but also gave the players who lost their jobs an extra day of employment before the hammer fell on them. In order to clear room on the 40-man roster, the Blue Jays designated OF Darin Mastroianni and IF Matt Hague for assignment while releasing RP Neil Wagner (who had had Tommy John surgery this season) and moving Brett Lawrie to the 60-day DL.


The player who caught my interest in this equation is Hague. Hague was claimed off of waivers from the Pittsburgh Pirates on August 18 and was immediately optioned to Triple-A Buffalo where he went on to crush the ball over 13 games, hitting .377/.411/.566 with a home run and seven doubles. After only two weeks of employment, during which Hague did nothing to merit his eventual dismissal, he was cut loose by the Blue Jays in order to facilitate their September call ups.


This got me thinking of how Alex Anthopoulos has been treating the waiver wire as well as the players who come to the club. Other players who have seen their employment abruptly end with the Blue Jays include Nolan Reimold, Mickey Storey, Ryan Rowland-Smith and Moises Sierra. This list doesn’t include players who the Blue Jays sent outright to their minor league teams like Brad Mills, Sergio Santos, Bobby Korecky and Cole Gillespie.


What this shows me is that, for the Blue Jays, there are certain players who come and go within a season who are deemed expendable. To me, this is a different mindset than what can be seen as a lack of forethought and long-term thinking when it comes to 40-man roster management.


The Blue Jays claimed Matt Hague to fill an immediate need in Buffalo at the corner infield positions with Dan Johnson (and, earlier, Adam Lind and Edwin Encarnacion) injured. With bubble players like Steve Tolleson and Juan Francisco in the majors, the Bisons didn’t have anyone to play third with Jared Goedert and Andy LaRoche on the DL. Hague, available on the waiver wire, filled that need in Buffalo but the Blue Jays likely knew ahead of time that Hague would be cut loose to make room for September call ups once Buffalo’s season was over; I doubt that we would have seen so many Bisons called up to Toronto immediately had the Triple-A club made the playoffs.


With this in mind, I believe that the Blue Jays were already planning to cut loose several players whom they weren’t intending to retain in 2015 such as Mastroianni and Hague. I also believe that the emergence of Norris, Graveman and Pompey expedited the decision to make room on the 40-man roster.


I’ve characterized Alex Anthopoulos’s actions over the past couple of years regarding the waiver wire as somewhat impetuous. When a move doesn’t work out or if a player has a couple of bad outings (Mills and Liam Hendriks this year, Justin Germano, Dave Bush, Edgar Gonzalez, etc. last year), he is jettisoned with an immediate DFA and a replacement is sought.


These moves have shown us that the veteran minor league players who occupy the last few spots on the 40-man roster are, to the club, interchangeable. The fact that Hague was cut loose so soon after being claimed by the Blue Jays shows us that he was just brought in to plug a hole at the minor league level (which he did admirably). Although he can still re-sign a minor league contract in 2015, since Hague does not figure into the Blue Jays’ plans, he was never going to hold on to his 40-man roster spot heading into the offseason.


We wish all of these journeymen the best of luck as they embark on the next phase of their baseball careers. It’s a tough grind out there and this post has been a tip of the cap to those who may not be prospects but they still look for their shot at the big time.


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