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Can you believe it? We’re going to have real* major league baseball on today with the Blue Jays opening their season on Friday against the Tampa Bay Rays. While the Blue Jays still don’t know where their home games are going to be played, they have announced their Opening Day Roster.
*If you want to call playing without fans in a 60-game season that could all fall apart at any given time “real.”
With 30 players on the roster and a three-man taxi squad, there’s a lot to unpack here, so let’s get to it!
We’ll start behind the plate with Danny Jansen and Reese McGuire making the club out of the gate. This was all completely expected and the season’s delay has allowed McGuire to get his legal issues taken care of down in Florida (he plead guilty to a charge of disorderly conduct, paying a $450 fine after being arrested for exposing himself inside a parked SUV).
The Jays’ third catcher, Caleb Joseph, will be on the taxi squad, allowing the Jays to keep Joseph off the 40-man roster but keeping him traveling with the team in case he’s needed.
On the infield are Bo Bihette, Cavan Biggio, Vladimir Guerrero, Joe Panik, Travis Shaw and Rowdy Tellez with the impressive youngster Santiago Espinal, acquired in the trade that sent Steve Pearce to Boston, earning himself an Opening Day roster spot. With the 30-man roster for the next two weeks, bringing a guy like Espinal is a little easier and gives the Jays a chance to get him his major league debut. Espinal is on the 40-man roster already (he was added in the offseason) and so no roster moves are necessary to keep him around.
Also to be noted, is that Vladimir Guerrero is going to play first base while Travis Shaw will be the regular third baseman this season.
Brandon Drury, who was placed on the injured list for undisclosed reasons, remains on the injured list and is therefore not on the roster. Breyvic Valera, who was claimed on waivers from San Diego, has been unable to report out of Venezuela and is on the restricted list.
In the outfield, the Jays are carrying Anthony Alford, Derek Fisher, Randal Grichuk, Lourdes Gurriel, Teoscar Hernandez and Billy McKinney, allowing them to carry six of the seven outfielders on their 40-man roster. Only Jonathan Davis is off the roster and is currently on the injured list for undisclosed reasons.
Obviously, the 30-man roster allows the Jays to kick the can down the road a bit on the Anthony Alford decision. Out of option years he’d have to clear waivers before the Blue Jays can send him to the alternate site in Buffalo.
Now we get to the pitchers. Starting pitchers appear to be Hyun-jin Ryu, Matt Shoemaker, Tanner Roark, Trent Thornton and Anthony Kay. In the bullpen we’ll have Ken Giles, Rafael Dolis, Jordan Romano, Shun Yamaguchi, Anthony Bass, Sam Gaviglio, Thomas Hatch, A.J. Cole, Brian Moran, and Jacob Waguespack.
Benefitting directly from the expanded 30-man roster are Thomas Hatch, A.J. Cole and Brian Moran. Hatch was added to the 40-man roster this offseason but was expected to start in Buffalo had there been a minor league season. Cole and Moran still need to be added to the 40-man roster after signing minor league contracts in the offseason. The Blue Jays have not announced corresponding moves to make room for them, although Arden Zwelling speculated that since players who are on the COVID-19 Related Injury List don’t count towards the 40-man roster (think of it like the 60-day injured list), then if guys like Drury, Font, Davis and Luciano are all on the IL for COVID related reasons that creates four 40-man roster spots right away.
Pearson will likely be added to the roster when he will no longer get the service time for a full year, reports indicate that that will be on July 29.
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