Perez among 5 prospects added to Jays' 40-man
TORONTO -- The Blue Jays made their final preparations for the upcoming Rule 5 Draft on Tuesday night by adding five Minor League prospects to the 40-man roster.
Toronto selected the contracts of right-handers Hector Perez, Yennsy Diaz, Patrick Murphy, Trent Thornton and Jacob Waguespack. Right-handers Jordan Romano and Jackson McClelland, left-hander Travis Bergen and outfielder Forrest Wall were among the notable omissions.
Teams had until 8 p.m. ET on Tuesday night to add Rule-5 eligible players to the 40-man roster, which was the only way to guarantee their safety before next month's Rule 5 Draft at the annual Winter Meetings in Las Vegas.
Perez is the Blue Jays' No. 11 prospect, per MLB Pipeline, and was a lock to be protected. Murphy's 2.64 ERA over 26 starts at Class A Advanced Dunedin made for an easy decision, while Thornton (No. 22) was essentially guaranteed a spot after he was acquired in Saturday's trade for infielder Aledmys Diaz.
Waguespack, who was acquired in July's trade of Aaron Loup, also made the final cut. At age 25, and with a full season under his belt at Triple-A, the Blue Jays clearly determined he was ready to contribute in the near term and could not be left exposed. Yennsy Diaz earned the other spot after going 10-5 with a 3.05 ERA in 27 appearances (25 starts) between Class A Advanced and low Class A.
Tuesday's deadline exposed the roster crunch the Blue Jays have been preparing for the last several months. Toronto used its remaining five spots on the 40-man roster and yet, some promising prospects had to be left exposed simply because there wasn't enough space.
The Rule 5 Draft includes players who have been in the Minors for at least four or five years, depending on when they signed. Teams pay $100,000 per pick, and the player must remain on the Major League roster for the entire season barring injury. If he doesn't, the prospect has to be offered back to the original club for $50,000.
Toronto's lack of space on the 40-man roster is a good problem to have, but it also comes with clear downfalls. Opposing teams likely will take a long look at Bergen, who was left exposed after posting a 0.95 ERA over 43 appearances in the Minors. The 25-year-old opened the year at Dunedin and later advanced to Double-A New Hampshire, where he struck out 43 over 35 2/3 innings.
Romano and catcher Max Pentecost were left off the Blue Jays' 40-man roster a year ago and experienced the same fate again on Tuesday. Pentecost, a former first-round pick, appeared in a career-high 89 games this year for New Hampshire, but also struggled at the plate with a .684 OPS. Romano posted a 4.13 ERA for New Hampshire and will be viewed as a reliever in the Rule 5 Draft.
Wall, Toronto's No. 24 prospect, was acquired in the deal for Seunghwan Oh. He has a lot of potential, and the Blue Jays don't want to lose him, but he's also still only 22 and has yet to complete a full season at Double-A. It's probably a stretch to think he will be ready for the Majors by the end of March.
Other Blue Jays prospects left exposed include right-handers Corey Copping (acquired in July for John Axford), Jon Harris (first-round pick in 2012) and McClelland (a 15th rounder in 2015), who has reached triple digits with his fastball out of the bullpen.