Toronto has tough decisions with 40-man roster

Toronto has tough decisions with 40-man roster

TORONTO -- The Blue Jays are expected to have a busy offseason as they attempt to reshape their roster. But before a lot of the work can be done, some crucial decisions must be made.

Toronto officially activated Devon Travis, Troy Tulowitzki, Aaron Sanchez and Dalton Pompey from the 60-day disabled list on Friday morning. Darwin Barney, Miguel Montero, Brett Anderson and Michael Saunders all became free agents.

Hot Stove Tracker

The latest transactions mean the Blue Jays have reached the max on their 40-man roster. Outfielder Jose Bautista will soon join the list of departures when his mutual option is officially declined early next week, which previously had been announced by the club.

One roster spot won't be enough to fill all of the holes on Toronto's roster, so some additional moves will need to be made to create space. The Blue Jays are in the market for at least one impact bat, one impact arm and one reliable middle infielder who can provide some depth behind the frequently injured Tulowitzki and Travis.

Blue Jays' Top 30 Prospects

The roster crunch might seem relatively easy at the moment, but it will become a lot more complicated by the end of the month. Toronto has several prominent prospects who are eligible for the Rule 5 Draft at December's annual Winter Meetings, and the only way they can be protected is by adding them to the 40-man roster.

The list includes right-hander Conner Greene, catcher Danny Jansen, first baseman Rowdy Tellez, left-hander Thomas Pannone and catcher Reese McGuire. That's five players who could be lost to another team if they are left exposed, and that's a dangerous possibility for a team that is looking to rebuild in the Minors, while at the same time competing at the big league level.

Koehler K's Ellsbury, the side

There are some noticeable areas where the roster could be trimmed to accommodate the younger players. In the bullpen, Leonel Campos, Taylor Cole and possible non-tender candidate Tom Koehler are at risk. Behind the plate, Raffy Lopez and Luke Maile might be on the bubble, but that could be an issue, because the Blue Jays need a backup catcher and might not be ready to hand the job to a rookie.

Elsewhere on the field, Rob Refsnyder is an obvious candidate to go. Even if all six of the aforementioned players were taken off the roster, that would still leave just enough space for the prospects and two additional players once Bautista officially departs. Toronto will be making more moves than that, so it's pretty clear the organization will have to get creative in the weeks ahead.

Trades are one possibility. When the Blue Jays add another outfielder at some point this offseason, it could make Steve Pearce expendable in left. Signing a middle infielder would put the out-of-options Goins in jeopardy. Then there's always the possibility that some of the younger prospects could be moved as well. While Toronto is not expected to trade any of its elite prospects, some of the fringe players could be on the move to provide upgrades elsewhere.

Pearce's leadoff double

There should be no shortage of interest in Greene if the Blue Jays leave him exposed. He has yet to figure things out, and his 5.29 ERA at Double-A was a major disappointment. But Greene can hit 100 mph, and his raw tools alone should be enough for a team to grab him in the Rule 5 Draft as a possible reliever. The same approach could be taken with Pannone or even Jansen, who is coming off a breakout season.

As for Tellez, it was less than a year ago he was openly being talked about as the first baseman of the future. He hit just .222 with six homers for Buffalo in 2017, so it seems unlikely he'd be taken in the Rule 5 Draft, but after all the time Toronto spent in his development, does the club really want to risk losing him? We're about to find out.

Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. 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.