With tomorrow being the deadline to declare 40-man rosters in advance of next month’s Rule 5 draft, the Blue Jays have some decisions to make on several players both inside and outside of the 40.
The Jays’ 40 currently sits at 33, and it’s hard to see many moves being made today. At the same time, there are several players who are on the bubble in terms of the 40/Rule 5, and it will be interesting to see who is added, and who is left off.
1. Samad Taylor
Taylor made some off season adjustments to be more on time with his swing, and the tweaks paid off in a career year.
Taylor showed some versatility as well at AA this year, spending time at 3B/SS/CF/LF in addition to his usual position at 2B. Strikeouts and an ability to make consistent contact at higher levels is still concern, and a brief audition in winter ball (10K in 23 AB in the Dominican Winter League) has not done a lot to dispel that. Still, it’s tough to ignore a guy who had 30+ extra base hits and 30 stolen bases this year. Barring any roster moves, it’s a bit crowded situation for infielders on the 40 at the moment, but Taylor’s 2021, a season in which he began to fulfill some of the promise his athleticism has always suggested, may land him on the 40.
2. Joey Murray
2021 was a write off for Murray, limited to only 2/3 of an inning, but the Blue Jays know what he can do, and his performance at the alt site in 2020 only cemented the front office’s evaluation of him.
The Blue Jays might gamble and leave Murray off the 40 because other teams may be scared off by his uncertain status – or, they might be tempted to have a look at him next spring. He seems to have earned his way on to the 40.
3. Leo Jimenez
Perhaps the most-hyped and least-seen prospect in the system, there is little doubt that Jimenez could play major league SS right now. The bat, which is just starting to come around, is still the question. A bottom-feeding team could easily put him in the lineup and live with his growing pains at the plate. In terms of upside, he might have the most of any player in the system who is Rule 5 eligible.
4. Eric Pardinho
Like Murray, 2021 was a washout for the much-hyped 2017 IFA. Unlike Murray, there were some concerns about his performance in Low A in 2019, although arm issues might have been to blame.
While there is still some projection remaining, the question marks seem to large for a team to take a chance on Pardinho, who might move quickly when finally healthy, but is still very far away.
5. Zach Logue
I admit to having a soft spot for crafty lefties. Having added velo over the past two seasons, Logue is no longer necessarily the soft-tossing type, and he might present the biggest dilemma for the Blue Jays front office. He might profile only as a back of the rotation guy, but it wouldn’t be hard to see a team with nothing to lose take him n the Rule 5 and kick the tires on him (maybe in a bullpen role) next spring.
6. Graham Spraker
Spraker had been primarily a starter in his first three years in the system – the team thought enough of him to send him to Arizona in the fall of 2019.
Spraker came into 2021 with a new role – late inning reliever – and he responded extremely well to the change, fanning 65 in 44 innings, earning another invitation to the southwest, where he’s no longer a secret: