Happ highlights Blue Jays' newcomers in 2016

Left-handed starter acquired to bolster Toronto's rotation

February 10th, 2016

TORONTO -- The Blue Jays entered the offseason knowing they would retain one of the best lineups in baseball, but there were plenty of question marks about whether there will be enough pitching to repeat as American League East champions.

No. 1 starter David Price is gone, but his departure created just one of several holes on the pitching staff that needed to be filled. The club had to get better not only in the starting rotation, but also in the bullpen. After several moves, the Blue Jays feel the mission was accomplished.

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In the days leading up to the official start of Spring Training on Feb. 21, MLB.com is taking a closer look at every aspect of the Blue Jays' roster. This edition examines "The New Guys" on the potential 25-man roster.

LHP J.A. Happ: The 33-year-old southpaw made an unexpected return to the organization when he signed a three-year deal worth $36 million early in November. It's a reunion of sorts after Happ spent three years in Toronto from 2012-14, before being traded to Seattle prior to last season for outfielder Michael Saunders. Happ saw his value soar late in the year, registering a 7-2 record with a 1.85 ERA in 11 starts with the Pirates. But the Blue Jays aren't expecting him to be quite that good. Toronto would be happy with a lot of innings and something closer to his 4.13 career ERA.

RHP Jesse Chavez: The 32-year-old journeyman righty will compete for the final spot in the rotation during Spring Training, but a more likely scenario would see him begin the year in the bullpen. Even if Chavez opens the season as a reliever, he'll likely find himself in the rotation if someone on the staff goes down with an injury. Chavez is an ideal first line of defense, and he has the type of versatile arm that transitions well between roles. It's a similar situation that Marco Estrada found himself in last year, and he became one of Toronto's most valuable starters.

RHP Gavin Floyd: The 33-year-old righty also could have an outside chance to compete for a starting job, but he seems more likely to end up in the bullpen, as well. Floyd signed a one-year deal worth $1 million plus incentives on Saturday, giving the club yet another long-relief option in the bullpen. He hasn't pitched a full season since 2012, but he transitioned to the role of reliever last season in Cleveland and was impressive, with a 2.70 ERA over a small sample size of 13 1/3 innings.

RHP Drew Storen: The Blue Jays have yet to announce whether Storen will be used as a closer or setup man, but either way, he'll have a prominent position at the back end of the bullpen. His presence alone has allowed Toronto to contemplate the idea of using Aaron Sanchez as a starter without too much fear of what that would do to the rest of the bullpen. Storen was phenomenal in the first half of last season in Washington with 29 saves, but his performance dropped when the Nationals acquired Jonathan Papelbon at the non-waiver Trade Deadline. Look for him to eventually win the ninth-inning job while Roberto Osuna slides into a setup role.

RHP David Aardsma: The 34-year-old righty was another late signing the Blue Jays made without anything to lose. He agreed to a Minor League contract on Friday, and he will likely compete with Steve Delabar and Ryan Tepera for one of the final spots in Toronto's bullpen. Aardsma was once a very reliable reliever, but he has been limited to 30 2/3 Major League innings over the past two years and likely faces an uphill battle to make the Opening Day roster.

C Humberto Quintero: The 36-year-old Venezuelan cracks this list because the Blue Jays have almost no depth behind the plate, and there's a chance the veteran catcher will take advantage of that situation. Russell Martin and Josh Thole will begin the year as the big league catchers, but if either goes down with an injury, it's going to leave Toronto short on options. Prospects Max Pentecost and A.J. Jimenez have struggled to stay healthy in each of the past two seasons, and there is no obvious candidate to step in and fill the void. Quintero has appeared in just three games over the past two years, but he is solid defensively and brings a lot of experience to the table.