The Blue Jays’ September 1st roster moves explained!

Josh Thole
Photo credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Blue Jays are doing things! Though, with the deadline for players to be in the organization in order to be playoff-eligible having passed last night, maybe not quite as many things as people would have hoped.

As expected the club has signed Josh Thole, who they made a free agent earlier in the week, following the acquisition of Dioner Navarro. Not expected: in order to make the moves work on paper, and keep Thole playoff-eligible just in case, the club has optioned Devon Travis down to Bluefield.

Let’s take a moment to try to understand this.

The B-Jays’ season ends tonight, which means any of their players — i.e. Devon Travis — will be eligible to be added to the Jays’ roster afterwards. Obviously that’s what’s going to happen. Travis will be up tomorrow and playing for the Jays — and it’s not like he’s actually travelling to Bluefield as we speak; it’s just a paper transaction.

The move doesn’t burn an option year for Travis because a player has to be down for at least 20 days in order to have his option year burned — something we should have remembered from the bad old days of fretting over Travis “meats don’t clash” Snider. Read: *I* should have remembered it before I tweeted about the subject!

Travis doesn’t lose his playoff eligibility, either. It used to be that only players on the active roster (i.e. the 25-man roster) as of August 31st were automatically eligible for the playoff roster, but the rule was changed in 2014, according to a Ken Rosenthal piece at JABO, to make anybody on the 40-man roster (which Travis remains on, despite the paper demotion) automatically eligible.

I use the word “automatically” there because there is still a way onto the playoff roster for guys who weren’t on the 40-man at the time of the deadline. Anybody in the organization as of the end of the day on August 31st can be added to the playoff roster as a replacement for an injured player.

So then, sending someone down was necessary to ensure that Thole was on the Jays’ active roster in time to be eligible for the playoff roster without any strings attached. I suppose — though it’s certainly possible I’m missing something on this — they could have signed him to a minor league deal, which only would have made him eligible as an injury replacement.

In other words, all this delightful creativity is maybe a bit of overkill. I mean, does anybody actually expect R.A. Dickey’s caddy to actually be on the playoff roster?

I fully expect Dickey to be getting the Mark Buehrle rally towel treatment, with Aaron Sanchez, Marco Estrada, J.A. Happ, and Marcus Stroman making up the Jays’ playoff rotation. That said, there’s still a chance that Sanchez needs to get shut down, or sent to the bullpen, and if it’s the latter case the Jays would not have been able to get Thole onto the roster without someone being injured had they not made this move.

They may have been able to find Thole a spot due to someone’s injury anyway, and it’s possible that Francisco Liriano would become the club’s fourth starter rather than Dickey, but by doing it this way those are moot points — Thole is eligible should he be needed, and at the cost of absolutely nothing, except a day’s big league pay for Devon Travis, who will surely be compensated for that on next year’s contract.

Just like Aaron Sanchez, Devo took one for the team here, and if you really want to put a positive shine on it, what we have here is the front office and the guys in the clubhouse coming together towards a common goal. I don’t say that because I think it’s a change from what was happening last year, but it’s not always the case, and it’s good to see.

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Speaking of Liriano, he may well find himself in the bullpen mix come playoff time, as the club — controversially? — decided to not make a move for left-handed reliever to complement — or replace? — Brett Cecil.

Gideon Turk of BP Toronto wrote a great piece today about how Cecil’s curveball looks just as good as it did last year now, in terms of velocity, spin, and break, but that he’s struggled to locate it. Hanging curveballs seems as good an explanation as any for why Cecil has given up so many loud hits this season, and you sure as hell would like to see him get that sorted out come playoff time. But like I say, Francisco Liriano could find himself a lefty reliever in October as well, and as long as he doesn’t walk everybody in the goddamned stadium — which, let’s be honest, he probably will — maybe it will work.

He’ll have possible competition, too, as the club announced a few call-ups today (with more still to come, apparently), which included lefty Matt Dermody. He’s had a good year in the minors, where he started at Dunedin and rose all the way Buffalo, showing some nice ability to miss bats and avoid walks (though less so at triple-A). It’s more an insurance move than anything else, I imagine, but you’re not going to be called up to pitch in October if your season ended in early September, so he’s got a chance!

Also coming up today Dalton Pompey, Ryan Tepera, and Danny Barnes. And as Shi David notes at Sportsnet, Bo Schultz and Aaron Loup aren’t eligible to come back until after the triple-A season ends on September 5th, but one would assume they’ll be up, at least for September, as well.