Final Roster Edition
By Jay Blue
Blue Jays from Away
The Blue Jays are whittling down their roster as they also prepare to head north to Montreal for their two-game series (and then come back to Florida to open their season at Tampa Bay).
In helping to settle the bullpen questions a little bit, the Blue Jays released Steve Delabar and have told Randy Choate that he won’t make the big league team. For Delabar, it’s the end of an era that saw him rise to the top of the profession and then fall back to the minors, all in the span of three years. In 2013, Delabar rode an outstanding first half to the MLB All-Star Game before getting hurt at the end of the season and struggling with control issues for the next couple of years, spending much of 2014 and 2015 in Buffalo. Delabar and the Jays came to an arbitration agreement before the season started but the whole figure is not guaranteed and, by releasing Delabar, he won’t be subject to waivers and could still opt to sign a minor league deal with the Blue Jays or another team.
Randy Choate, 40, is now going to decide whether he wants to start the season in the minor leagues and manager John Gibbons has gone on the record (see linked article above) to say that he would like to have Choate in them minors.
Just as I’m writing this, the Blue Jays have announced that Roberto Osuna is going to be the closer, Ryan Tepera, Arnold Leon and Joe Biagini have made the team in the bullpen and Ezequiel Carrera will be the fourth outfielder. Marco Estrada will start the season on the disabled list.
The bullpen announcement is the biggest surprise with Pat Venditte left (or right) on the outside looking in. Venditte, the switch pitcher still has an option and Tepera was a solid contributor to the major league team last year. When Estrada returns, the Jays will probably send down the least effective pitcher of the three. Tepera still has options (and could be the odd man out if all three are performing well) while Leon is out of options and Biagini is a Rule 5 pick who needs to be offered back to the San Francisco Giants before he can be sent down to the minors.
Apparently familiarity was the big key in deciding on Osuna to close and I can imagine that the Blue Jays want to take someone as the fourth outfielder with a track record of some production in the major leagues (Carrera). While Ceciliani had a phenomenal spring (with a 1.231 OPS), I think the Blue Jays are being wary of ascribing too much emphasis to spring training stats.