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Inbox: Will Revere man the leadoff spot in '16?

Beat reporter Gregor Chisholm fields questions from fans
January 3, 2016

There was a lot of talk that Ben Revere wouldn't be back next year, but I'm happy to hear that won't be the case. Is he our leadoff man in 2016? -- Cameron W., Barrie, OntarioManager John Gibbons went on record during the Winter Meetings to say that Revere will

There was a lot of talk that Ben Revere wouldn't be back next year, but I'm happy to hear that won't be the case. Is he our leadoff man in 2016?
-- Cameron W., Barrie, Ontario

Manager John Gibbons went on record during the Winter Meetings to say that Revere will start the year in the top spot. The mentality is "if it's not broken, don't fix it," and it's hard to argue with that approach after the success Toronto enjoyed during the second half of last season. Revere's on-base percentage (.328 career) leaves a lot to be desired, but his speed, contact rate and high average are ideal at the top of the lineup.
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The only alternative would be a non-traditional leadoff man, but the Blue Jays tried that in 2015 and it didn't really work. Troy Tulowitzki struggled in 26 games out of the leadoff spot and Gibbons recently conceded that his star shortstop likely felt more comfortable lower in the order. Devon Travis may eventually take over the No. 1 duties, but he's out until at least late May following left shoulder surgery -- so the job belongs to Revere to start '16.
Well, so much for adding another starter. Who should we expect to win the No. 5 spot, Drew Hutchison or Jesse Chavez?
-- Warren D., Toronto

In an ideal world, Hutchison would emerge as the front runner during Spring Training. He has become the forgotten man after a disappointing 2015 season that began with Hutchison as the Opening Day starter but ended with him being left off the postseason roster. The talent is there, but the consistency hasn't been -- and as a result, he will report to camp without any guarantees of a job.

The case for Hutchison centers around how his spot would impact the rest of the roster. It would allow Chavez to start the campaign in the bullpen, and the veteran righty has proven in the past he can easily transition from reliever to starter midway through the season. Hutchison had never appeared in the bullpen prior to September and his lack of experience would make for a more difficult change of roles. In the end, the fifth starter will go to whomever pitches the best in Spring Training -- but it would make things a lot easier for Toronto if Hutchison emerged with that role.
Hot Stove Tracker
Still waiting for some moves to the bullpen. Are there any internal candidates to replace [Mark] Lowe, and whom should the Blue Jays look to add?
-- Alyson B., Mississauga, Ontario

There has been a lot of turnover in the Blue Jays' bullpen this offseason, but the list of names competing for jobs this spring should be familiar to fans. Roberto Osuna, Aaron Sanchez and Brett Cecil are expected to form the back three, while Aaron Loup likely will resume his role as the second lefty.

That leaves three jobs up for grabs, with Chavez and Hutchison a pair of obvious contenders for long relief. Steve Delabar, Bo Schultz and Ryan Tepera will be in the mix alongside Rule 5 pick Joe Biagini and newcomer Pat Venditte. Toronto also likely isn't done adding players, and some additional signings could be on the way in the New Year.
My family is planning a trip to Spring Training for the first time in March. Which ballparks do you recommend?
-- Linda M., Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island

The first stop for any Blue Jays fan in Spring Training has to be Dunedin, Fla. It has been the home of Toronto's spring facilities since 1978 -- and with the club exploring either renovations or relocation, the clock is ticking to see the stadium in its current form. The Blue Jays' complex is outdated. But from a fan's perspective, it provides a unique experience because it's smaller than most parks and allows fans to get up close and personal with their favorite players.
Another stadium to consider is my personal favorite, Bright House Field, which is home to the Phillies. It's a state-of-the-art, modern ballpark that maintains its Grapefruit League appeal and provides nice views of the surrounding practice fields. Bright House Field is a short 15-minute drive from Dunedin and is close to the Clearwater Beach area, which has a lot of great restaurants and is good for families. Other recommendations would include the Pirates' McKechnie Field and Boston's replica of Fenway Park in Fort Myers.
Which players on the roster are out of options?
-- Isaac C., London, Ontario

The Blue Jays have 11 players on their 40-man roster who are out of options: OF Ezequiel Carrera, LHP Cecil, RHP Chavez, RHP R.A. Dickey, RHP Delabar, 3B Josh Donaldson, RHP Chad Jenkins, C A.J. Jimenez, 1B Justin Smoak, C Josh Thole and OF Junior Lake.

Players without options have to clear waivers before they can be sent to the Minor Leagues. That won't be a concern for several players on this list, but Carrera, Delabar, Jenkins and Jimenez will be the ones to watch. Carrera, Delabar and Jenkins will be competing for jobs during Spring Training, while Jimenez would ideally start the year with Triple-A Buffalo.
What's the plan for Dalton Pompey? If Revere and Michael Saunders are around, what happens to him?
-- Greg H., Victoria, British Columbia

General manager Ross Atkins would be well served to keep an open mind this offseason -- and if Pompey can be used to get additional pitching, it's something the club would have to pursue. But all signs point to him sticking around. Pompey seems destined to begin the year in Triple-A -- but the Blue Jays face a lot of uncertainty after 2016, so it might not be long before Pompey gets another shot at the Majors.

Jose Bautista is entering the final year of his contract, while Revere could be in line to make upwards of $10 million through arbitration next winter. That poses the danger of creating two holes in the outfield, and having Pompey in the organization provides some long-term security. Pompey will also be a nice depth option to protect against injuries in 2016. So unless the Blue Jays can acquire a really nice piece, expect the young outfielder to stick around.

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for Read his blog, North of the Border, follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.