The Toronto Blue Jays released their 25-man Opening Day roster on Sunday and, while most of the players were where we expected them to be, there were still a few surprises on Sunday.
The Blue Jays had already named their starting rotation, with Marco Estrada, J.A. Happ, Marcus Stroman, Francisco Liriano and Aaron Sanchez manning the mound to start the year. Obviously there were no surprises on this front.
At the back of the bullpen, I think we were all surprised to see that Roberto Osuna will start the season on the 10-day DL (note that the DL has been shortened in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement). With his neck spasming since returning from the WBC, Osuna was was placed on the DL, retroactive to April 1, meaning that he can be activated as early as April 11. Taking Osuna’s roster spot to start the year will be Dominic Leone, a 25-year-old righty who had a solid spring, posting a 3.09 ERA and 1.11 WHIP in 11 2/3 innings with 15 strikeouts and just four walks.
Another surprise was the designation for assignment of Mike Bolsinger who many had thought would make the team due to being out of options. Ryan Tepera outpitched him this spring and earned the roster spot.
All spring we were hearing how Jarrod Saltalamacchia would be a great complement to starter Russell Martin and how he’d allow Martin to be rested more. Well, while Saltalamacchia had a minor league contract, that contract was purchased by the Blue Jays and he is indeed the Jays’ backup catcher to start the year.
The Blue Jays opted to take an extra infielder to start the year, opening the season with Justin Smoak, Kendrys Morales and Steve Pearce as the first basemen, Devon Travis, Troy Tulowitzki, Darwin Barney and Ryan Goins up the middle and Josh Donaldson at third.
Goins was on the bubble but the other surprise move (keep reading) allowed the Jays to keep on the 25-man roster without exposing him to waivers.
The biggest news was that the Blue Jays decided to release Melvin Upton, eating the $5 million on his contract that the Blue Jays were on the hook for. Upton’s release means one of two things: either the Jays plan to use Steve Pearce a fair bit against left-handed pitchers in left field, or that there’s still a move coming as the club looks to bolster their outfield (in case you missed it, the Jays signed outfielder/first-baseman Chris Coghlan to a minor league deal just yesterday).
To sum up, here’s the 25-man roster:
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