The Blue Jays made a number of roster moves yesterday ahead of next month’s Rule 5 draft.
A bunch of bullpen arms were moved in order to free up some space on the 40-man roster. Jose Fernandez was picked up by the Tigers on a waiver claim, Justin Shafer was outrighted to Buffalo, while Rhiner Cruz, Taylor Guerreri, and Jake Petricka cleared waivers, and are now free agents. Troy Tulowitzki and Brandon Drury were reinstated from the 60-day DL, bringing the current 40 man to a total of 36 players.
There may be more space created before rosters are frozen on November 20th. Dalton Pompey may be headed elsewhere after another season of injuries and inconsistency. Getting into an argument with Buffalo Manager Bobby Meacham this summer probably means that the Mississauga native will get a much-needed fresh start with another organization. Yangervis Solarte’s option was not picked up by the club, and with the surplus of infielders in the system, it seems likely that he will be traded or non-tendered.
So at the moment, there are four spaces available to protect minor league players who could be exposed to the Rule 5. RHP Patrick Murphy would seem to have the best chance to be added, but there is a sliver of a chance that his injury history might scare off other teams. Murphy was the Florida State League’s Pitcher of the Year, and led the league in strikeouts. He hit 100 with his fastball late this summer, and kept his mid-90s velo deep into games.
As for position players, Harold Ramirez and Max Pentecost are the two most likely under consideration for the 40. Ramirez had a fine bounce-back year at AA, winning the Eastern League batting crown, and can play all three OF positions. Pentecost was healthy for the whole season, but struggled at the plate until making a mechanical adjustment in August. He looked very worn down in the playoffs. The Blue Jays faced a similar situation with the 2014 1st rounder last November, but placed him on the DL at the end of the Arizona Fall League.
Other Pitchers who have a chance to grab one of those 40-man openings include:
-southpaw bullpen arm Travis Bergen, who fanned 74 in 57 innings split between A+ and AA this year;
-reliever Jackson McClelland, whose command appears to be catching up to his 100+ FB in AFL play;
-Markham native Jordan Romano, who had a fine season in AA, and might be converted to a relief role;
-reliever Corey Copping, who came over in the John Axford deal;
-starter Hector Perez, acquired in the Roberto Osuna trade;
-Aaron Loup-heir apparent reliever Danny Young, a sidewinding lefty.
With as many as a half-dozen or more of those names (there are others in the system, but the above appear to be the most likely) under consideration for the 40, it makes sense that the Blue Jays are likely considering other roster moves before the 20th.