Inbox: Answering questions on rotation injuries, depth in Spring Training

March 7th, 2024

This story was excerpted from Keegan Matheson’s Blue Jays Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- With only three weeks until Opening Day, the Blue Jays are trying to dance through the injury scares.

First it was No. 1 prospect , then and ace . For a team that needs so much to go right in 2024, they can’t afford to have much go wrong.

Let’s start right there in the rotation for this week’s Blue Jays Inbox:

Do the injuries to the rotation make a big addition more likely? -- The question of the week

I don’t think this changes anything for the Blue Jays when it comes to Blake Snell and the rest of the pitching market. If we were talking about blown elbows and season-ending injuries, perhaps that’s different, but the Blue Jays seem content with their depth unless something changes significantly. Bowden Francis, you’re up.

If Gausman AND Manoah aren’t ready for their first turn in rotation … is there a scenario where a healthy Ricky T starts vs. the Rays on Opening Weekend? -- @nkinsocal

Even in that worst-case scenario, I’d be surprised. My feel for Tiedemann is that he has 100-plus innings to work with in 2024. If I had to pick a number in the office pool for a full, healthy season, give me… 117. It still feels sensible to have him come up a couple of months into the season and maximize his value down the stretch.

Would love your thoughts on the 2B/3B situation right now. Seeing reports they might keep Ernie Clement. Does that mean Davis Schneider or Santiago Espinal could be sent down since they have options? -- @SamskiNYC

Options matter -- a lot -- but given where the Blue Jays are right now, they need the best 26 players on the roster. Protecting depth doesn’t raise your ceiling. I would be stunned to see Schneider optioned, but Clement has quietly had an excellent spring and he’s a big leaguer, whether it’s in Toronto or elsewhere. I consider Espinal to be competing for a roster spot as much as anyone in this group.

With so many middle infielders in MLB and AAA, how will they all get enough playing time to progress? A trade seems necessary. -- @SCTIbaseball

Triple-A Buffalo will be loaded, at least, but the Blue Jays need someone from this group to pop, like Schneider did a year ago. All of this does seem to point to a trade, but other organizations have waited for this free-agent market to come down, and the trade market might not offer much value in a return. Dealing a depth piece doesn’t feel like it will net a return that helps this roster much in 2024.

Can you update us on Yariel Rodriguez? Do you see him making the Opening Day roster whether as a starter or reliever? -- @rlurrechaga

Rodriguez is scheduled to face live hitters in camp on Friday. That’s a big step, and if all goes well, he’ll be back on a “normal” routine and see game action next week. That said, I believed a start in Triple-A was an option when Rodriguez signed, and I think that’s even likelier now. That wouldn’t be a “demotion,” just an opportunity to finish his ramp-up after a year off.

How do you expect the 3B playing time to sort itself out? Is Justin Turner a real option there or is it just Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Cavan Biggio for now? -- @LGinevro

Today, I see Kiner-Falefa as the starter with Biggio, Espinal and Turner backing him up. Turner will see some time there, but I don’t expect that to happen much more than once a week. I’d bet on Damiano Palmegiani pushing his way into that mix by mid-season and Addison Barger could get a shot if he’s hitting, too.

Will the Jays give Davis Schneider a real opportunity to help this offense? Is his defense good enough anywhere to have him in the lineup regularly? -- @TotalTennis3

Schneider needs to be in the lineup. This team needs upside and power, which he represents. His offense is good enough at second base, as long as he’s hitting, but this all gets twice as interesting if he can play a passable left field and fill more of the Whit Merrifield role. I’d like to see Schneider get an extended run to open the year.