Out come the scissors! With only a few days to go until Opening Day the Blue Jays made a handful of cuts, sending pitchers Al Albuquerque, Deck McGuire, Luis Santos, Rhiner Cruz, and Chad Girodo to Minor League camp.
This makes the bullpen battle more clear. Over the weekend, Matt Dermody was sent to Triple-A and Craig Breslow was released, so with today’s cuts, the Jays have eight arms left battling for seven spots. It appears that the battle ultimately comes down to John Axford, Tyler Clippard, and lefty Tim Mayza competing for two spots. That said, Danny Barnes had options and could see himself start the year in Triple-A because of it, but given how effective he was last season, that seems unlikely.
I don’t think any of these moves are surprising. It seemed for a hot second there that Santos was going to crack the squad because he was unhittable in early spring, but he started to struggle as time went on. Albuquerque had an uphill battle to beat out Clippard and Axford and Cruz and Girodo were never really on the radar.
Deck McGuire was perfect all spring, not allowing a single run over 10 2/3 innings. I really dig his narrative and would have loved to see him come north with the team out of spring, but it isn’t surprising the Jays would rather roll with veteran options like Clippard and Axford to start with. I imagine we’ll see him back with the big league club eventually. The return shall be legendary.
Reminder: All these pitchers are on Minor League deals so they didn’t need to be optioned, out-righted, or have to clear waivers. All will serve as nice depth options for the Jays at Triple-A Buffalo.