With the team fully having hit the button on a rebuild, will the Blue Jays select a player with the 10th pick? Will they lose a player?
The latter seems a much more likely scenario.
Increasingly, the Rule 5 has become a place to add a puzzle piece. Teams have been much more conservative in their 40-man promotions, adding players who may be some time away from the bigs, but whose upside is too large to ignore. Case in point: Anthony Alford, who was added after the 2016 season, despite having only played two full seasons, none of them above High A.
An astute Twitter follower has pointed out that Carson Cistulli, formerly of Fangraphs, is a huge fan of the Cardinals’ 2B Max Schrock, who is Rule 5 eligible. Cistulli, whose position with the Blue Jays is one that he said that he’s not at liberty to disclose the details of (probably a hybrid analyst/scout role), has written extensively about Schrock, who has hit (.304 career average) at every level he’s played. However, he’s coming off his worst season as a pro, and with the Blue Jays already deep in middle infielders, it seems unlikely that they will select him. Add to the fact that he can’t play SS, and it seems even more doubtful.
What’s more likely is that the Blue Jays lose a Pitcher among at least one of Jordan Romano, Corey Copping, Travis Bergen, and Jackson McClelland, probably in that order. Romano would appear to be at the top of the list because of the ever-changing use of bullpen arms, according to JJ Cooper of Baseball America
With every team shuffling relievers day-to-day, it is harder nowadays for a power reliever under Rule 5 requirements (which means they can’t be optioned to the minors) to stick on a roster. He’s simply not as valuable roster-wise as a similar player with options. But teams are looking for relievers who can give them multiple innings, so a starter with a little more polish (who could slide into that role and serve as a fill-in starter) is more appealing than fireballers with little control.
Copping has fanned better than a batter per inning in a minor league career spent entirely in the bullpen. Bergen may not throw as hard as other relievers, but his career numbers are hard to ignore. And while McClelland and his 100+ mph fastball may have the highest upside, his command may represent an equal amount of risk. The Blue Jays may be gambling that all three make it through the Rule 5. With Romano’s starter profile, it’s not unlikely that a team might try to convert him into a reliever, where his fastball may play up a bit, and he can give them those multiple innings.