Revisiting Toronto's projected 25-man roster

March 5th, 2019

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- The Blue Jays have reached the midway point of Spring Training, and there have already been a lot of changes since the start of camp.

One day after pitchers and catchers reported for duty, John Axford signed a Minor League contract. Two weeks later, Bud Norris and Clay Buchholz signed deals (with Buchholz making his one-year, $3 million pact official Tueday), then Devon Travis went down with another knee injury.

The additions -- and the one notable subtraction -- mean there will be some changes to Toronto's projected Opening Day roster. At the start of Spring Training, made its predictions for the 25 players who would make the club. It's time to revisit the initial picks.

Catcher (2): Danny Jansen, Luke Maile

What changed? Nothing at all. Jansen is competing with Reese McGuire for the No. 1 role, but it's a pretty safe bet that he will end up with the job. Maile is the frontrunner for the backup spot because the Blue Jays likely will want to keep their young catchers playing regularly, with one in the Majors and one in the Minors.

First base (2): Justin Smoak, Kendrys Morales

What changed? Billy McKinney has received a bit of playing time at first, so it's possible he will take over backup duties. That would restrict Morales to designated hitter, but either way, the veteran slugger will be on the roster.

Second base (1): Lourdes Gurriel Jr.

What changed? Travis was the projected Opening Day second baseman, but a left knee injury has sidelined him indefinitely. When Vladimir Guerrero Jr. gets promoted at some point in April, Brandon Drury will move off third, and that might free up Gurriel for other positions. But for now, he should start at second.

Third base (1): Brandon Drury

What changed? Drury has been playing third base this spring, but it won't be long before he has to shift positions. Once Guerrero gets called up, all bets are off, and Drury will either become the starting second baseman or a super-utility player.

Shortstop (1): Freddy Galvis

What changed? If anything, Galvis is more locked into regular playing time than he was at the start of camp. He's not going to play 162 games like he did each of the past two seasons, but Galvis is still going to see a lot of time up the middle. What that means for Gurriel Jr. once Guerrero arrives is still unclear.

Outfield (4): Kevin Pillar, Randal Grichuk, Teoscar Hernandez, McKinney

What changed? Dalton Pompey has been one of the early surprises of Spring Training, and his strong play might put a little bit of pressure on the front office. Pompey is out of options and he cannot be sent to the Minors without clearing waivers. If Toronto is set on its four outfielders, the club will look to move Pompey by the end of the month. If there are no takers, it's possible he will stick as a fourth outfielder.

Utility (1): Richard Urena

What changed? Travis' injury opens the door for Urena to crack the 25-man roster on a short-term basis. Toronto won't need another infielder once Guerrero is promoted, but another backup will be required for at least the first couple of weeks. Veteran Eric Sogard is competing for this spot as well, but Urena holds the edge because he's already on the 40-man roster.

Starting pitcher (5): Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez, Matt Shoemaker, Buchholz, Ryan Borucki

What changed? Buchholz signed a one-year deal. It remains to be seen how the Blue Jays intend to use him, but odds are he ends up in the rotation. GM Ross Atkins opened Spring Training by stating Stroman, Sanchez, Shoemaker and Clayton Richard had starting jobs, while Borucki would compete for the final spot. Will Atkins stick to that or will Buchholz take a starting job from Richard instead? There are injury concerns with this staff, so the surplus might not matter, but the bet here is that the Blue Jays won't be able to justify sending down Borucki and he'll make the team.

Relief pitcher (8): Ken Giles, Norris, David Phelps, Ryan Tepera, Tim Mayza, Axford, Elvis Luciano, Richard

What changed? Norris and Axford should both head north, and the Buchholz signing might push Richard into a long-relief role by the end of camp. Phelps is questionable for Opening Day as he continues to recover from last year's Tommy John surgery, and Rule 5 Draft pick Luciano is no lock to make this team, so more changes are possible here. Other names to keep an eye on in the second half of spring include Joe Biagini, David Paulino and Jacob Waguespack.

Here's the full rundown of the Blue Jays' 25-man roster projection:

Danny Jansen
Luke Maile

Justin Smoak
Lourdes Gurriel Jr.
Freddy Galvis
Brandon Drury
Richard Urena

Kevin Pillar
Randal Grichuk
Teoscar Hernandez
Billy McKinney

Kendrys Morales

Marcus Stroman
Aaron Sanchez
Matt Shoemaker
Clay Buchholz
Ryan Borucki

Ken Giles
Bud Norris
David Phelps
Ryan Tepera
Tim Mayza
John Axford
Elvis Luciano
Clayton Richard