Predicting Blue Jays' Opening Day roster
TORONTO -- The start of Spring Training is almost here and it's time for the annual tradition of predicting the Blue Jays' 25-man roster. MLB.com will revisit these projections midway through camp, and then again at the end of Spring Training to see how close we came with manager Charlie Montoyo's first Blue Jays squad:
Catcher (2):Danny Jansen, Luke Maile
Jansen is competing with Reese McGuire for the No. 1 role, but it's a pretty safe bet he will end up with the job. Maile is the frontrunner for the backup spot because the Blue Jays will likely 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
No changes from last season. Smoak returns as the undisputed starter, while Morales will open as the club's designated hitter and occasional starter at first. It's worth noting that both players are eligible for free agency at the end of the year.
Second base (1): Devon Travis
Travis should start the season at second, but he'll need a strong first couple of weeks to maintain his playing time. When Vladimir Guerrero Jr. gets promoted, Brandon Drury will have to move somewhere and, if Travis isn't careful, it might be second. Travis could also see some time in the outfield as a result.
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Third base (1): Drury
Drury is expected to spend the first couple of weeks as Toronto's starting third baseman, but all bets are off after that. The long-term job belongs to Guerrero, which likely means Drury either becomes a regular second baseman or returns to his roots as a super-utility player.
Shortstop (1): Freddy Galvis
Galvis should split playing time with Lourdes Gurriel Jr., but he's the only natural shortstop the Blue Jays have on the roster. Galvis won't appear in all 162 games like he did last season for San Diego, but he should still see a lot of action -- as the Blue Jays move Gurriel all over the field.
Outfield (4): Kevin Pillar, Randal Grichuk, Teoscar Hernández, Billy McKinney
Hernandez and McKinney will compete for playing time in left, while Pillar returns as the starter in center and Grichuk is the man in right. If the Blue Jays opt to send one of Hernandez or McKinney to the Minors, it would open the door for Dwight Smith Jr. to make the team as a fourth outfielder.
Utility (1): Gurriel
Gurriel is going to see a lot of time at shortstop, but he might also be used at second, third or possibly even a corner-outfield spot. Gurriel's never really had a permanent position before, but his versatility bodes well for his career. He's going to be an everyday player, but the position might keep changing.
Starting pitcher (5): Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez, Ryan Borucki, Matt Shoemaker, Clayton Richard
The only real question is whether Stroman, Sanchez and Shoemaker will be healthy at the start of the season and whether Richard can hold off a large group of candidates for the final spot in the rotation. Sean Reid-Foley, Thomas Pannone, Sam Gaviglio and Trent Thornton are among the other names who are competing for a job.
Relief pitcher (8): Ken Giles, Ryan Tepera, Joe Biagini, Tim Mayza, David Paulino, Elvis Luciano, Mark Leiter Jr., Jacob Waguespack
This is one area of the roster where the Blue Jays likely aren't done adding. Last spring, Toronto added a trio of veterans -- John Axford, Seunghwan Oh and Tyler Clippard -- in the spring and the club might take a similar approach here. It's also worth noting that free-agent addition David Phelps, is recovering from an injury and likely won't be ready for the start of the season.
Here's the breakdown for Round 1 of MLB.com's 25-man roster projections:
Lourdes Gurriel Jr.
Mark Leiter Jr.
RHP David Phelps