Blue Jays set 2023 Opening Day roster

March 30th, 2023

TORONTO -- The final spot came down to the final day, but 28-year-old has cracked his first Major League roster and joined a star-studded Blue Jays team.

“I told Nathan Lukes that he's on our team, which is great for him,” manager John Schneider said Tuesday in Dunedin, Fla. “Tough decision, I think, when you kind of break it all down. But [we’re] just really happy with the way he performed. Every phase of his game was where it should be. So he'll be coming with us."

Lukes and Canadian reliever , who won the eighth job in the bullpen, represented the only two Spring Training competitions from a quiet camp.

Free agency and waivers could still present some opportunities for Toronto, of course. We see each year how a roster can change in the early days, but the Blue Jays made the 2023 Opening Day roster official on Thursday afternoon for their 4:10 p.m. ET opener in St. Louis:

Catcher (2): ,
This may be baseball’s best catching tandem. Kirk will catch Alek Manoah, and his excellent blocking works well with Kevin Gausman’s splitter, while Jansen should line up for the majority of Chris Bassitt’s starts. The Blue Jays can’t go wrong, though, and it’s easy to see this duo producing another All-Star appearance in 2023.

First baseman (1):
Guerrero felt “anxious” at the plate in 2022, trying to re-create his near-MVP season from the year prior. Splitting the middle between those two seasons would still be a .900-plus OPS and 40 home runs, though, and Guerrero has looked capable of doing that and more.

Second baseman (2): ,
This position will be a revolving door that also includes , and who plays second each day could depend on where the other two are needed. Getting Espinal more looks against lefties -- whom he mashes -- will be a priority for the Blue Jays in 2023.

Shortstop (1):
Bichette wants to be out there for all 162 games, and he might be. Coming off a massive stretch run in 2022, Bichette has been locked in from day one of camp and is playing with a new level of confidence.

Third baseman (1):
Chapman remains one of the game’s elite defenders, and he could benefit from the shorter porches in Toronto in 2023 after he seemed to fill the warning track with fly balls in ’22. He’s a free agent after this season, so he’ll be looking to repeat what his old A’s teammate, Marcus Semien, did with the Blue Jays two years ago.

Outfielders (4): , , ,
Most days, you’ll see Varsho in left, Kiermaier in center and Springer in right -- a dramatic shift from recent seasons. The trades of Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and Teoscar Hernández have shaken up this roster, though, and the outfield defense is significantly better for it. Lukes will be used “here and there,” Schneider said, to spell the starters.

"Having him out there giving KK and George a blow, we feel comfortable with him in all three spots,” Schneider added.

DH (1):
Belt should slide in as the everyday DH, but this spot can still be used if someone like Springer or Guerrero needs a day off his feet. When a righty is on the mound, Belt could see plenty of days in the cleanup spot, where he’ll have every opportunity to drive in runs.

Utility (1):
This will be a big season for Biggio, who is working to get back to the on-base machine he was earlier in his career and as a prospect. He’ll split his time evenly between the infield and outfield, and keep Biggio in mind as a runner off the bench. He may be the Blue Jays’ best overall baserunner.

Starting pitchers (5): , , , ,
Toronto’s top three is mighty, and if Berríos can recapture his old form, this could be one of baseball’s best rotations. Kikuchi won the No. 5 job with an outstanding Spring Training, but he’ll still need to prove that his control has improved in the regular season.

Relief pitchers (8): , , , , , , ,
This is a deeper group than in 2022, largely due to the addition of Swanson from the Mariners. could return from Tommy John surgery for the stretch run, too, while No. 3 prospect Yosver Zulueta and former No. 1 prospect could soon be options.