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Blue Jays’ roster moves result in a work in progress

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TSN Baseball Insider


It has been a busy week for the Toronto Blue Jays, with everything from trades, releases and call-ups to demotions and a contract extension impacting the roster early in the 2019 season.

While it’s quite atypical for there to be so much roster reconfiguration during the first week of the season, rebuilding teams don’t necessarily follow the same script as contenders do. The Jays still have some disassembling to do during their reconstruction process. They are looking to provide more opportunities for their younger players to gain experience. Last week, we saw the DH role open up as Kendrys Morales was traded to the Oakland A’s.

This week was more of the same as the Jays traded outfielder Kevin Pillar to the San Francisco Giants and brought back three players in return, including super utility man Alen Hanson who joined the major league team to give manager Charlie Montoyo a lot of options in setting his lineup and making in-game moves.

The Pillar trade also opens up playing time in centre field for Randal Grichuk and another newly acquired player, Socrates Brito. Brito was acquired from the San Diego Padres the same day Jays general manager Ross Atkins moved Pillar out of town. The timing of the moves was not a coincidence. Brito is one of the game’s fastest players and the Jays will give him playing time to determine if he can hit enough to utilize his extraordinary speed.

Outfield prospect Anthony Alford joined the major league club for a couple of days as a placeholder until Brito and Hanson arrived. The Jays’ hope is that Alford will be a legitimate contender to become their centre fielder. They want him to get further grooming in Buffalo (Triple-A Bisons) but also to prove that he is ready for the big leagues this season. In the meantime, Brito and Grichuk will get most of the playing time in centre field.

I am not convinced Brito will ever hit enough to be anything more than an extra outfielder. I feel the same about Alford. But the playing time will determine that for sure. I like Hanson as a valuable utility player that can be a backup at second base, shortstop, third base and any of the outfield positions.