Meet Your 2016 Toronto Blue Jays

Photo c/o John Lott
Photo c/o John Lott

As the saying goes, the early rising Blue Jays fan catches the worm. In this case, the worm is news, in the form of the 2016 Opening Day roster! For some reason, the brass decided to announce transactions at 7:15 this morning, and we’ve got everything you need to know about the 25 guys heading north for #OD16 on Sunday against Tampa Bay.Starting Rotation

Marcus Stroman, RH
R.A. Dickey, RH
Aaron Sanchez, RH
J.A. Happ, LH
Marco Estrada, RH (will start season on 15-day DL; expected to debut April 10)

With the announcement of Aaron Sanchez as the “fifth” starter on Monday, there are no surprises. We all knew Stroman was going to get the ball on Opening Day against his buddy Chris Archer. I’m sure there was some thought to Estrada going second in the rotation, but his injury renders that conversation moot. Stroman will likely start the Dome Opener as well, with Dickey and Estrada following on the weekend.


Roberto Osuna, RH (Closer)
Drew Storen, RH
Brett Cecil, LH
Jesse Chavez, RH
Gavin Floyd, RH
Arnold Leon, RH
Joe Biagini, RH
Ryan Tepera, RH

Of all the names on this list, the one which sticks out the most is Biagini. The 24-year old who throws hard and has a nasty curve, was acquired from the Giants in the Rule 5 draft. He’ll battle all season with the likes of Leon, Tepera, and Venditte to stick with the big club. If the Jays want to send him down, he must first be offered back to San Francisco for $25,000, or the clubs can attempt to work out a trade. In a similar situation Arnold Leon is out of options, and has pitched well enough to justify the club not exposing him to waivers, where he would very likely be claimed. The injury to Aaron Loup opened the door for Tepera, whose reverse-splits make him like a second lefty in the ‘pen, and once Loup is healthy, it’s conceivable Tepera will be sent back to Buffalo to serve as depth. But as we know, injuries happen, and they’ll likely be back at some point during the season. I’m a little surprised they took Tepera over Venditte, but like I said, I have little doubt he’ll be needed eventually in 2016.

Photo c/o John Lott
Photo c/o John Lott

We’ve all been waiting for the announcement of the capital-C Closer, and the brass have decided to stick with the youngster, despite a strong spring from the veteran. It is comforting to know that should Osuna falter (and I do expect a bit of a second-year slump, but will be happy to be proven wrong), there is an experienced option to replace him. I would have preferred to see him in the setup role, giving John Gibbons the option to use him for four- or five-out appearances as a bridge to Storen. Brett Cecil has shown no signs of regression, and looks poised to continue the form he showed from late June through the end of last season, where he didn’t allow an earned run in 30+ appearances.

Of course, this could be much ado about nothing.

Floyd and Chavez are interchangeable parts, and the expectation is Floyd will be the long man to keep himself relatively stretched out and able to make a spot start, or slide into the rotation if/when the need arises. However, it will be interesting to see whether or not Drew Hutchison gets that call first.

Starting Position Players

Kevin Pillar, CF
Josh Donaldson, 3B
Jose Bautista, RF
Edwin Encarnacion, DH
Troy Tulowitzki, SS
Michael Saunders, LF
Chris Colabello, 1B
Russell Martin, C
Ryan Goins, 2B

The 6-8 spots in that order are fluid, but contain no surprises. It appears Edwin will be able to answer the call on Sunday in Tampa as the starting DH.

The Bench

Josh Thole, C
Justin Smoak, 1B
Darwin Barney, IF
Ezequiel Carrera

The only “battle” in camp was for the fourth outfield spot, and while Ceciliani probably deserved a shot based on performance, his options worked against him, and he’ll be sent back to audition for the first recall in case of injury. Although Dalton Pompey will be fighting that same battle. The Jays may point to a guy like Chris Colabello to be an example for Ceciliani. Last year, Colabello didn’t win a job out of camp, then tore it up in the first month at Buffalo, and earned a promotion in early May, before sticking with the club all season. He can be used as a prime case study to keeping your head down and working hard to earn a spot even after the initial roster is set.

As for the man who actually won the job, the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t, so Carrera finds himself back on the squad after being replaced by Ben Revere down the stretch last season. He’s got an element of speed, showed a little pop this spring, and was actually starting to hit decently down the stretch last year before being bumped off the roster.

These are the First 25, but they certainly won’t be the last. It’s always been my opinion that the Opening Day roster is a bit of over-hype, since there are frequently changes within the first week of the season. But above lies the foundation for the group Gibbons & Co. will rely most upon as this team embarks on what we hope is a journey to the first championship in 23 seasons. Let’s Play Ball!

4 responses to “Meet Your 2016 Toronto Blue Jays”

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