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Gibbons: We're going to go with the best team

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- The Blue Jays claim the years of keeping players on their roster because they are out of contract options have come to an end.

Toronto has been notorious in the past for allowing players to head north with the club when they cannot be optioned to the Minor Leagues. It happened two years ago with lefties David Purcey and Jo-Jo Reyes, and to a much lesser extent, Luis Perez in 2012.

The options supposedly won't be an issue this time around, as manager John Gibbons and general manager Alex Anthopoulos will pick the best possible squad to begin the season.

"It's an important year for us, so we're going to go with the best team," Gibbons said Tuesday afternoon.

That's the official stance from the club, but it remains to be seen whether that will end up being the case. Esmil Rogers, who is out of options, already has been guaranteed a spot on the club, while fellow relievers Jeremy Jeffress and Brett Cecil are in the running for the final two spots.

Both players would have to pass through waivers before being optioned, and it's hard to imagine a scenario where Toronto would part ways with Cecil that easily. A more likely scenario would see him making the club over second-year hurler Aaron Loup, who was one of the Blue Jays' most valuable relievers in 2012.

The same could apply to Jeffress if he performs well this spring. Jeffress will receive competition from right-hander Brad Lincoln, who is a candidate to begin the season in the starting rotation for Triple-A Buffalo.