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Inbox: Will Gurriel stay on the roster for '18?

Beat reporter Gregor Chisholm answers questions from fans
MLB.com @gregorMLB

What are the Blue Jays going to do when Josh Donaldson returns? Will they find a way to keep Lourdes Gurriel Jr.?
-- Phil K., Thunder Bay, Ontario

Gurriel had an impressive debut, but he's still the likeliest candidate to be sent down. Donaldson's return would slide Yangervis Solarte back into a super utility role, but there will be no shortage of playing time at second base, shortstop and third. Solarte's defense at shortstop is still a concern, and the club has used him there just once this season, but he's an option whenever fly-ball pitcher Marco Estrada is on the mound.

What are the Blue Jays going to do when Josh Donaldson returns? Will they find a way to keep Lourdes Gurriel Jr.?
-- Phil K., Thunder Bay, Ontario

Gurriel had an impressive debut, but he's still the likeliest candidate to be sent down. Donaldson's return would slide Yangervis Solarte back into a super utility role, but there will be no shortage of playing time at second base, shortstop and third. Solarte's defense at shortstop is still a concern, and the club has used him there just once this season, but he's an option whenever fly-ball pitcher Marco Estrada is on the mound.

Even if Donaldson requires at least semi-regular starts at DH, the Blue Jays should be able to make this configuration work. It limits the versatility of the roster, but Russell Martin's ability to play third -- or even second base in an emergency situation -- helps protect against in-game injuries. Gurriel is a nice fit, but he should be playing every day, and if that's not going to happen in the Majors, he should be sent down when Donaldson is back.

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Is it time to put Devon Travis to the Minors and give Gurriel second base?
-- Justin C., Toronto

This seems to be a popular question this week -- and it's understandable because Travis is batting .140 with a .218 on-base percentage -- but I still don't think it's time for type of move. Travis' struggles would be more concerning if he had not been down this road before. Last year, Travis hit .130 in April and then enjoyed the best month of his career with a 1.019 OPS and 20 extra-base hits. It's reasonable to expect another turnaround because the bat is simply too good to be mired in that type of slump for much longer. If he's still not hitting in a couple of weeks then it's probably time to have that conversation, but the upside is far too high to rush things.

John Gibbons always leaves his starters in for too long. Look at Saturday's game against the Yankees. Marcus Stroman was obviously tired, Gibbons left him in too long and a winnable game turned into a blowout. What is he thinking
-- Derek T., Hamilton, Ontario

Gibbons has no choice but to force the issue a little bit with his rotation. The bullpen has been an early strength, but it lacks versatility, and until the Blue Jays add a long reliever, that's going to be a problem. The club has been attempting to extend the outings of John Axford and Danny Barnes, but this relief corps is filled with one-inning specialists. If a starter gets knocked out early there will be repercussions for days and that's why Gibbons' hands are tied. The rotation ranks sixth in the American League with 117 innings and 12th with a 5.23 ERA. Simply put, it needs to be better.

With the starters being forced to pitch extra innings because the bullpen lacks a long man would there be any additional thought toward moving Joe Biagini back to the 'pen at some point?
-- Corey B., Sparwood, British Columbia

Ideally yes, but that's easier said than done because the Blue Jays have the same problem they did at the end of Spring Training. The only relievers with options remaining are Ryan Tepera and Barnes and neither one deserves a demotion. Tepera is the primary setup man to Roberto Osuna and Barnes has allowed just one run over 11 2/3 innings. The only way to get a long reliever onto the roster is by parting ways with either Seung Hwan Oh, Tyler Clippard, Axford or Aaron Loup.

Loup is the longest-tenured Blue Jay, but he doesn't have a defined role. He's the lone lefty, yet he rarely comes in to face a left-handed batter in high-leverage situations and has been mostly relegated to pitching when the score is out of hand. The Blue Jays probably don't want to lose him, but they may have no choice but to take a long-hard look at this situation. My pick for long relief would be Luis Santos, which would allow Biagini to continue starting in the Minors.

What are they going to do with Randal Grichuk if he continues to scuffle?
-- Rick B., Raleigh, N.C.

Teoscar Hernandez is playing so well right now that he needs to be in the lineup every day. He's a streaky hitter and there's a good chance his bat will eventually cool off, but Hernandez deserves the benefit of the doubt until he proves otherwise. In an ideal world, Grichuk would be sent to the Minors, but he's out of options so that can't happen. For now, he's destined to see a lot of time on the bench.

The Blue Jays currently have five outfielders, plus a full-time DH in Kendrys Morales. At some point, one of those players has to go because the configuration is not sustainable. Exploring the trade market for Steve Pearce is one option, eating the contract of Morales is another and a last resort might be cutting ties with Grichuk altogether. Expect the club to delay this decision as long as possible, which means Grichuk on the bench with a five-man outfield should be expected for awhile.

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, Joe Biagini, Josh Donaldson, Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Yangervis Solarte, Devon Travis