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Photo Credit: © Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Blue Jays set Opening Day Roster: Release Upton, Keep Goins, Place Osuna on DL

It’s Opening Day! For eight teams, at least, and the Blue Jays aren’t one of them. But tomorrow there’s a real, meaningful Blue Jays baseball game on. Hell yeah! Earlier today, the Jays released their 25-man roster right at the noon deadline, and it featured a couple of, well, interesting notes. 

Melvin Upton Released, Goins Survives:

Yesterday, Buster Olney reported that Melvin Upton Jr. would not be on the Blue Jays Opening Day roster, and that the team was looking to trade him. They clearly weren’t able to find a trade partner willing to take on the 32-year-old former All-Star, and ultimately opted to release him and simply eat the $1 million owed to him. This is certainly curious, as the Jays suggested all spring that they were looking to use a platoon of Zeke Carrera and Upton in left field. Sure, his spring was bad, and he was poor down the stretch, but Upton was a one win player last year in time with San Diego and Toronto, and there was at least some hope that he could excel in a depth role with virtually zero pressure in a more hitter friendly ballpark.

Taking Upton’s roster spot is the weirdly-beloved Ryan Goins, who would’ve had to go through waivers if he was cut from the roster. This is confused because, well, Goins is bad, bad enough that even though his glove is very good (for highlight reel plays, at least), he was worth -1.0 wins above replacement last year according to FanGraphs. His career 60 wRC+ is nowhere near good enough to be playing at the Major League level, and the Jays already have a better version of the same player in Darwin Barney, and a disaster situation backup in Triple-A with Jonathan Diaz.

This means the only true outfielders on the team are Kevin Pillar, Zeke Carrera, Jose Bautista, and Steve Pearce, and two of those guys have health concerns and probably shouldn’t be playing in the field every day. Also, if you roll with Pearce in left field, you have to play Justin Smoak at first base, unless you want to use Kendrys Morales in that spot. That also leaves you with Carrera as the only other guy on the roster who can play centre field if Pillar needs a day off, and as we know, Zeke, bless his soul, isn’t good in centre field.

I don’t know. None of it really makes sense. Upton isn’t great, sure, but he’s a much, much better fit on this roster than Goins is. And he’s a better player. No matter how bad you want to tell yourself Upton is, he was worth two full wins more than Goins last season. It isn’t even close between the two of them.

There must be something the front office knows that we don’t, because this doesn’t make a hell of a lot of sense for multiple reasons. When you consider Goins making the team despite being bad and redundant, and Justin Smoak being handed an extension despite being bad and then cracking the team after a putrid spring without an issue, you have to wonder how much this organization loves good, gritty, hard workin’ lunchpail guys who play well defensively. Good for Goins for managing to make himself so valued within the organization that the team would go out of their way to assemble its roster in a weird way just to keep him around.

According to Gideon Turk, who spoke with a reliable source within the organization, the team gauged trade interest for both Upton and Goins, and there was zero interest for the former, and some for the latter. I imagine the Jays are worried about Devon Travis’ health, and based on his injuries the past couple of years, are going to be quick to pull the trigger on him hitting the disabled list if something isn’t right. Then I guess you would want Goins around for that situation? I guess? But still, even with Travis on the DL, how much worse is Diaz? Or Gregorio Petit? I think we’ll be seeing Chris Coghlan sooner rather than later, so I wonder if that’ll spell the end of Goins, or if he’ll find his way through another roster shuffle. It’ll be interesting to see what happens.

Osuna, Sparkman, Schultz placed on the 10-day DL, Bolsinger gets DFA’d, Tepera and Leone stick:

This one kind of came out of nowhere, but Roberto Osuna will open the season on the 10-day disabled list due to a cervical spasm. It doesn’t seem to be too serious, but Osuna was noticeably throwing with less velocity during his three spring appearances after the World Baseball Classic than usual. So this is more of a better safe than sorry thing with a 22-year-old who’s logged a lot of innings in the past couple years. Filling his role as closer for the first week will be Jason Grilli, obviously. The move was backdated to April 1, meaning Osuna will be available to return to the roster on April 9, which is the last day of the six-game, season opening road trip.

Along with Osuna, Bo Schultz and Rule 5 pickup Glenn Sparkmann were placed on the 10-day DL. Schultz had Tommy John surgery, and will soon be placed on the 60-day DL to open up a spot on the 40-man roster for somebody else, while Sparkman suffered a thumb injury early in camp, and will likely be eased back over time. Mike Bolsinger, who was acquired in a swap for Jesse Chavez last July, seemed to have the inside track for the team’s long-reliever job, but (Mike, if you’re reading this, stop googling yourself) had a rough spring, allowing nine runs in 13 innings of work.

Kind of lost in all of the Upton/Goins negativity is Ryan Tepera and Dominic Leone, who both made the team after having excellent spring showings. Leone was selected off waivers from the Arizona Diamondbacks back in November, and wasn’t expected to come anywhere near cracking this roster. He pitched 11 2/3 innings over spring, allowing three runs on eight hits and three walks while collection 12 strikeouts. Tepera was also excellent, pitching 10 innings, collecting nine strikeouts, and allowing just two earned runs on six hits and three walks. Both have options and will likely be the two to be sent down to Triple-A once Osuna and Glenn Sparkman are ready to return, but good on them for winning an uphill battle.

  • Rob Ray

    For the love of God. I just ordered my Melvin Upton Jr. jersey on Friday, and now this. that’s $300 bucks down the drain.

    On a more serious note, I think the front office is working on something and Coghlan is their plan “B” is that certain something doesn’t work out. The first thing is to see who gets released today and if their are any candidates from that list. If not, a trade is always possible. Remember, they can trade Sparkman instead of offering him back to KC. I’m not saying they will, I’m only saying they can trade him. At any rate, the next move clearly has to be for an outfielder who can play CF.

  • Space Ghost

    The leading speculation on reddit is that Upton was a bad influence in the clubhouse. People noted that he was never seen to talk or sit with other players.

    • it don’t matter where goins can play in the field, he still can’t hit worth a shit. at his worst, upton is gonna give you better OF D, better speed, and a decent stick with pop (comparatively) if he’s just hitting lefties.

  • lukewarmwater

    For a guy who had some solid years in the majors, his game rapidly deteriorated. Some times one play can be symbolic of where the guys game seems to be. I recall a game where he went back on a fly ball and stopped to let the ball bounce off the wall. Now the problem was that the ball hit the wall at about the three foot level. Okay he is human he misjudged the trajectory of the long fly ball. But as it gently bounced off the wall, the ball went between his legs. I mean it was a Canseco moment of a ball bouncing off his head. To me that was the problem his head didn’t seem to be in the game. I simply suggested in the off season that considering that there wasn’t really that much talent available in the off season, the Jays would likely keep most of their current out field. Well I was taken to task but quite frankly with the exception of Fowler who was really an up grade.
    I think the Jays are indeed thinking of Goins defence as a contributing factor in case J.D. or Tulo suffer injuries. I realise that we do have Barney who has won a gold glove but we could see Goins in the outfield and playing most of the infield positiions. I get it, that he has been hitting at the level of Smoak over the past while, but with no one ready down on the farm I don’t think the Cleveland boys and Gibby had much choice.
    Obviously all teams will be affected by the injury bug but Osuna having back problems sounds a bit worrisome. As I stated this is a club with little depth and the kids on the farm not ready to take that next step. There are no equivalents of a Matthews, Marner or Nylander chomping at the bit to play in the bigs this season.
    The medical staff and trainers might be the M.V.P. if they can keep the over 30 guys healthy this year.

    • Kyball

      Why are we referring to them as “the Cleveland boys”.
      You do know that they aren’t secretly still running the show in Cleveland, right?
      They’re with the Jays now.
      Fuck off with that shit.

  • Teddy Ballgame

    Obvious that there has to be more to keeping Goins while dumping Upton than simply talent. Could be the “Upton is kinda a goof” tag that’s followed him since Tampa, could be that they’re really nervous about Travis. But if the thought is for Goins to cover left field occasionally…all I can say is “by the glasses of Rance!”

      • Teddy Ballgame

        I can’t cite anything, and it could of course be baloney, but I’ve heard the diva/not a hard worker tag a number of times, with that being mentioned as a big reason that he’s regressed from his early career success.

    • Mose

      Agreed… there is more to this story. And, Upton had an opportunity to win the job (or at least the platoon portion) last fall and in spring training, and he really did nothing with the bat, on the bases or in the field to suggest he could help the Jays win.

      Way better to cut bait, and move on with plan C, D or E, as uncertain as those plans might look like today.

      • well, that’s just he, he didn’t really HAVE to do anything, and he didn’t, but he’s still a better option than not having him. so, yeah, my guess is that he let it be known he’d snit a bit if he was in a straight platoon only facing lefties. still, dafuq they gonna do with LF now? zeeeeeke!!?!? haha, holy shit. are they banking on pompey or something?

        THIS IS TEAM.

  • El Cabeza

    I don’t get keeping Goins over Bossman Jr. It doesn’t make sense from a roster needs standpoint, Coghlan or no Coghlan.

    The other thing I don’t understand is how Osuna injured his cervix. Am I being a jackass by assuming the his/he pronoun?