Several Blue Jays to battle for roster spots
Five players without options have to overcome obstacles to begin season in Majors
TORONTO -- The Blue Jays will eventually have to make some difficult personnel decisions, as they have 11 players on the 40-man roster without options on their contracts.
Players without options have to clear waivers before they can be sent to the Minor Leagues. That won't be a concern for a lot of people on this list, but there are a few that will make for interesting cases.
The group without options includes OF Ezequiel Carrera, LHP Brett Cecil, RHP Jesse Chavez, RHP Steve Delabar, RHP R.A. Dickey, 3B Josh Donaldson, RHP Chad Jenkins, C A.J. Jimenez, 1B Justin Smoak, C Josh Thole and OF Junior Lake.
In that group of 11, it appears as though six have secure jobs on the roster. Dickey is in the rotation, Cecil will be in the bullpen, Thole is the backup catcher, Chavez will either begin the season in the rotation or pitch in relief, Donaldson isn't going anywhere and Smoak will platoon at first base with Chris Colabello.
That leaves five players -- Carrera, Delabar, Jenkins, Jimenez and Lake -- who would appear to be at risk. Here's a closer look at the obstacles each player has to crack the 25-man roster:
Carrera: Carrera is fifth on the outfield depth chart behind Jose Bautista, Kevin Pillar, Ben Revere and Michael Saunders. He is a suitable fourth outfielder, but unless the Blue Jays make a trade to open up a roster spot, Carrera doesn't appear to fit. Toronto is projected to pay Revere and Saunders more than $10 million through arbitration, so a deal is possible, but it's the only way Carrera avoids the waiver process.
Delabar: Toronto has three jobs up for grabs in the bullpen, and while other relievers are expected to be added to the mix, Delabar will have a shot to stick around. He's two years removed from an All-Star season, but his ERA has averaged more than 5.00 since then and his strikeouts have dipped into the single digits per nine innings. Even so, he's the type of pitcher another team would love to take a flyer on, so it seems unlikely he would clear waivers.
Jenkins: Jenkins' future in the organization could be directly tied to what happens with Chavez. If Chavez begins the year in long relief, then Jenkins' days could be numbered, but if Chavez starts, it creates another opportunity. Jenkins has the ability to throw multiple innings and his sinker has induced a lot of ground balls. Versatility is central to his case for a spot on the roster, but he'll need a good spring to secure a job.
Jimenez: It seems like only a matter of time before Jimenez is put through waivers. Toronto is set at the catcher position with Russell Martin as the starter and Thole as the personal catcher for Dickey. That would force Jimenez to the Minors, and he has a strong shot at clearing waivers following another injury-plagued season in 2015. Jimenez was once one of the club's top prospects, but his stock fell following several injuries.
Lake: Lake was claimed off waivers last week from the Orioles. He has the ability to play all three outfield positions, and he's a career .237 hitter with 16 home runs and 46 RBIs in 201 career games at the big league level. The 25-year-old will compete for a spot on the bench along with Carrera, but he likely would begin the year in Triple-A if he clears waivers.