The Blue Jays made several roster moves early yesterday afternoon in advance of the roster freeze prior to next month’s Rule 5 Draft.
LHP Tim Mayza, who underwent Tommy John in late September was outrighted to AAA Buffalo, while RHP Justin Shafer was designated for assignment. Those moves were made to make room for the promotion of UT Santiago Espinal and RHP Thomas Hatch, who as expected were placed on the 40.
The moves leave the team without a southpaw reliever (outside of possibly Thomas Pannone) on the roster. Kirby Snead, owner of one of the best sliders in the organization, was left off the 40, with the Blue Jays likely hoping that either his lack of MLB experience will dissuade teams from drafting him, or that they’ll find relief help from the left side elsewhere before spring training begins. It’s a little surprising that both Richie Ureña and Breyvic Valera are still on the 40 – a logical move would have been to DFA at least one to open up a spot for Snead or even Travis Bergen, who returned to the organization after being returned from the Giants. Obviously, the team prefers to hunt the waiver wire and see what’s available.
Another player who might get selected in the R5 would be RHP Jackson McClelland. Left off the 40 for the second straight year, McClelland pitched well when promoted to Buffalo in August. He can lose the strike zone on occasion, but it’s easy to see an MLB team kicking the tires on him and giving him a look next March. 100+ arms do not grow on trees. He could be the sleeper of the R5.
There had been some speculation in the media that OFs Josh Palacios or Forrest Wall might have been moved to the 40, but there’s little risk of them being selected. Both project as fourth OF types.
Espinal can play all three up the middle positions, and passed a second-half audition at Buffalo to earn the promotion. Hatch, acquired from the Cubs in the David Phelps deal, had added a cutter just before he was dealt, and the Blue Jays appear to have liked what they saw from him at AA. This is an organization that places a high priority on starting Pitching.
The Rule 5 draft takes place on December 12th.