Blue Jays face decisions on rotation, bullpen

Club also needs to pick who will enter regular season as fourth outfielder

Blue Jays face decisions on rotation, bullpen

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- The Blue Jays held a meeting on Friday to discuss their upcoming roster decisions, but the club isn't ready quite yet to publicly announce the pending moves.

The toughest call Toronto has to make is the final spot in the starting rotation, but it doesn't end there. The Blue Jays also have to announce a closer, the fourth outfielder and the final two spots in the bullpen.

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"We had a meeting yesterday to discuss the team a little bit," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "We're narrowing things down; we should know pretty soon. We've only got a week left anyways."

Here's a closer look at the spots still to be decided:

The fifth starter

Toronto opened camp with four official candidates for the final spot: Aaron Sanchez, Gavin Floyd, Drew Hutchison and Jesse Chavez. At this point, it appears the job will go to either Sanchez or Floyd, who have both enjoyed strong springs. Hutchison appears destined to begin the year with Triple-A Buffalo, while all signs point to Chavez working out of the bullpen.

The debate about the fifth starter has always started and stopped with Sanchez. There are some in the organization who feel he should be a starter, while others believe the club will be stronger with him in the bullpen. To his credit, Sanchez has applied pressure by allowing just three runs over 20 innings this spring. Adding even more depth to the bullpen is an enticing proposition, but the better Sanchez pitches, the harder it becomes to justify that type of move.

The closer

This has been called a "competition," but in reality, it has not been that at all. Roberto Osuna or Drew Storen will pitch the ninth inning, but the Blue Jays went into camp knowing what to expect from both relievers, and results this spring have done very little to impact the club's line of thinking one way or the other.

Storen might have the edge because of his experience, but the Blue Jays really can't go wrong here. No matter what happens, both Storen and Osuna will appear late in games when the Blue Jays are ahead. Even if Osuna isn't the closer, there will be times when he faces the heart of a batting order in the eighth, while Storen gets the bottom of the lineup in the ninth.

Storen discusses relief outing

The final two bullpen spots

Storen, Osuna, Brett Cecil, Chavez and either Sanchez or Floyd appear to have guaranteed jobs in the bullpen. That leaves two spots up for grabs, and while the Blue Jays aren't adamant about adding a second lefty, it still seems like the more realistic scenario to begin the year.

The second lefty would be either veteran Randy Choate or switch-pitcher Pat Venditte. The case for Venditte is hampered by the fact that he has an option remaining and can be sent to the Minors to preserve depth. Choate doesn't provide a lot of versatility because he exclusively faces left-handed hitters, but that shouldn't be a problem in a bullpen that has multiple pitchers who can toss more than one inning.

If the club decides against carrying a second lefty, right-hander Ryan Tepera likely has a guaranteed spot because of his favorable splits. Arnold Leon, Joe Biagini and Steve Delabar are also in the mix. Leon and Delabar are out of options, while Biagini was a Rule 5 pick who must be offered back to the Giants if he doesn't crack the roster.

Venditte faces switch-hitter

The fourth outfielder

If the fourth outfielder was decided on results alone, then Darrell Ceciliani would be a lock to make the team. Gibbons described him as the "MVP" of Spring Training on Saturday morning, and it's hard to argue with that as Ceciliani entered play hitting .438/.526/.813 with six extra-base hits and eight RBIs in 32 at-bats.

The problem is that Ceciliani has an option remaining on his contract, while fellow candidates Ezequiel Carrera and Junior Lake do not. That could be enough to swing the decision in Carrera's or Lake's favor, with Carrera likely holding the edge because of his ability to play center field.

"You have to think about the big picture," Gibbons said. "I think as a coaching staff, you look at it different than a front-office staff. We always want the best available from the get-go, but that's probably not smart all of the time either. You learn over time, you use so many guys throughout a season, you better hold onto certain guys."

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.