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Koehler a non-tender candidate for Blue Jays

Goins also on bubble ahead of Friday's deadline to offer contracts to arb-eligible players
MLB.com @gregorMLB

TORONTO -- Tom Koehler's future hangs in the balance this week as the Blue Jays must decide which arbitration-eligible players will be tendered a contract before Friday's deadline.

Major League teams have until Friday at 8 p.m. ET to tender each of their unsigned arbitration-eligible players a contract for 2018. Players who are non-tendered will become free agents, while those who receive an offer are allowed to proceed with the arbitration process.

TORONTO -- Tom Koehler's future hangs in the balance this week as the Blue Jays must decide which arbitration-eligible players will be tendered a contract before Friday's deadline.

Major League teams have until Friday at 8 p.m. ET to tender each of their unsigned arbitration-eligible players a contract for 2018. Players who are non-tendered will become free agents, while those who receive an offer are allowed to proceed with the arbitration process.

Koehler is an obvious candidate to be non-tendered following a year in which he made $5.6 million for the Marlins and Blue Jays. He would be looking at a raise to approximately $6 million through arbitration, and that should be too rich for an organization that does not have a clearly defined role for him in 2018.

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Even if Koehler is non-tendered, the Blue Jays could look to bring him back on a more affordable deal as the club did with Justin Smoak in 2015. He was initially non-tendered because of a high arbitration cost, but Smoak eventually signed a one-year deal at a reduced $1 million rate to remain with the organization.

Video: TOR@NYY: Koehler fans Ellsbury to K side in the 7th

Koehler spent four full years in Miami's rotation before running into all sorts of problems in 2017. He posted a 7.92 ERA in 12 starts for the Marlins and eventually was sent to Toronto in a midseason trade. Koehler made one start for the Blue Jays, but he was used mostly out of the bullpen (14 relief appearances) and posted a 2.65 ERA for the club. Toronto is still looking for a fifth starter, but the club's preference is to use Koehler out of the 'pen and as a possible back-up starter.

Toronto's current bullpen appears to be Roberto Osuna, Ryan Tepera, Danny Barnes and Dominic Leone. Aaron Loup has a good shot to make the team again next year, but the Blue Jays are also expected to add a lefty reliever at some point this offseason. Other internal bullpen candidates include rookie Carlos Ramirez, Joe Biagini, Matt Dermody and Tim Mayza. If the Blue Jays eventually signed Koehler, they essentially would be guaranteeing him a job over all the alternatives, but his versatility to start or pitch out of the bullpen will still be enticing.

Another Blue Jays player on the non-tender bubble could be infielder Ryan Goins. According to MLBTradeRumors.com, Goins is projected to earn approximately $1.8 million through arbitration this offseason. Toronto recently acquired middle infielder Gift Ngoepe, and the two players offer similar skill sets with a light bat and glove-first mentality. Further complicating matters, Goins is out of options on his contract and cannot be sent to the Minors before clearing waivers.

Video: TOR@HOU: Goins singles, Refsnyder avoids tag to score

One benefit for Toronto with all of these moves would be creating more space on the 40-man roster. The Blue Jays currently have just one spot open after adding five prospects last week to protect them from the upcoming Rule 5 Draft in December. Toronto will need more than one open spot on the 40-man roster this offseason, and these non-tender candidates are one way to provide additional flexibility.

Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.

Toronto Blue Jays, Tom Koehler