Jays set opening day roster, with surprises

By: Jay Blue

Blue Jays From Away

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.

Starters

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.

Relievers

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 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.

The bullpen shapes up with Joe Biagini, Jason Grilli, Joe Smith, Leone and Tepera from the right side and J.P. Howell and Aaron Loup from the left side.

Catchers

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.

Infielders

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.

 Outfielders

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).

This leaves the Jays with an outfield of Kevin Pillar, Jose Bautista and Ezequiel Carrera with Dalton Pompey starting the year on the DL.

To sum up, here’s the 25-man roster:

Starters

Marco Estrada
J.A. Happ
Francisco Liriano
Aaron Sanchez
Marcus Stroman

Relievers

Joe Biagini
Jason Grilli
J.P. Howell
Dominic Leone
Aaron Loup
Joe Smith
Ryan Tepera

Catchers

Russell Martin
Jarrod Saltalamacchia

Infielders

Darwin Barney
Josh Donaldson
Ryan Goins
Kendrys Morales
Steve Pearce
Justin Smoak
Devon Travis
Troy Tulowitzki

Outfielders

Jose Bautista
Ezequiel Carrera
Kevin Pillar

DL

Roberto Osuna (10-day)
Dalton Pompey (10-day)
Bo Schultz (60-day)
Glenn Sparkman (10-day)

Jay Blue

A lifelong Toronto Blue Jays fan, Jay Blue started blogging about the Jays when he was living in Berlin, Germany. He founded his own blog, Blue Jays from Away, to write about developments with his home town team, focusing on the Jays' minor league system. When he's not watching baseball, he is usually on the diamond umpiring or he's pursuing his research interests in the field of ethnomusicology.