Fifth rotation spot should be decided in camp

Sanchez, Hutchison are favorites for last starting job entering Spring Training

February 15th, 2016

TORONTO -- The Blue Jays have several competitions for jobs that will be worth watching this spring, but the one with the most repercussions is the battle for the final spot in the starting rotation.

Toronto seems to have its top four locked in with a group that includes Marcus Stroman, Marco Estrada, R.A. Dickey and J.A. Happ. The final job is completely up for grabs and there are as many as five contenders for the job.

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In the days leading up to the official start of Spring Training on Feb. 21, is taking a closer look at every aspect of the Blue Jays' roster. This edition examines the key battle in camp for a spot on the 25-man roster.

RHP Aaron Sanchez: The 23-year-old likely offers more upside than anyone else on this list, and that high ceiling could be enough to lock down a job if he performs well in camp. Sanchez began last season in a similar role, and while there were concerns early on over his high number of walks, he improved on that number almost every time on the mound. Sanchez did eventually go down with an injury, and staying healthy will be a big key for him in what could be a make-or-break year as a starter. If he's not in the rotation, Sanchez will transition back his setup role in the bullpen.

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RHP Jesse Chavez: The 32-year-old righty's shot at a full-time job in the rotation took a bit of a hit when Sanchez declared last month that his preference was to start. That move could force Chavez into the bullpen. But even if that's where he begins the season, it will probably only be a matter of time before his services are required as a starter. Toronto needs a versatile long reliever out of the bullpen and if somebody goes down with an injury, Chavez likely would receive first crack at the starting job. It's a role that worked out pretty well for Estrada in 2015.

RHP Drew Hutchison: He might have been the Opening Day starter a year ago, but Hutchison will arrive in Florida without any guarantees. The talent is there, but the same can't be said about the consistency, which has been his biggest detriment to date. At the moment, Hutchison appears to be on the outside looking in, but there have been plenty of examples of a strong Spring Training leading to a change. Hutchison likely will begin the year in Triple-A Buffalo, but he does have the ability to alter his course with an impressive camp.

RHP Gavin Floyd: The guaranteed one-year deal Floyd signed with the Blue Jays earlier this month does seem to indicate that he'll have a spot on the 25-man roster, but his role still isn't certain. The 33-year-old has made 196 starts over the course of 12 years in the big leagues, but only nine of those have come in the last two years. Floyd transitioned to the bullpen last season in Cleveland, where he pitched well in a small sample size. He'll likely be headed for a similar role in Toronto, but there might be an outside chance to make the rotation at some point as well.

RHP Roberto Hernandez: Another veteran starter the Blue Jays signed to a low-risk deal, Hernandez will likely begin the year in Buffalo. Hernandez made 11 starts for the Astros last season, and he owns a 4.58 ERA over 1,349 1/3 career innings. The Dominican native is a year and a half removed from any type of consistent success, but he's a depth option the club can consider if there are a series of injuries to the staff.

Pitchers and catchers report

Feb. 21.

Full squad reports

Feb. 25.

First Spring Training game

Away at Philadelphia, March 1, 1:05 p.m. ET

Opening Day

Away at Tampa Bay, April 3, 4:05 p.m. ET.