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Blue Jays – 40-man roster decisions potentially loom with the Jansen injury and possible Vogelbach addition

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Photo credit:Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports
Tyson Shushkewich
1 month ago
The Toronto Blue Jays have a pretty set roster heading into the 2024 season other than a couple of spots open on the bench and in the bullpen. The loss of Jordan Hicks to free agency opened a spot for another relief arm while the Jays have a bench spot up or two up for grabs as well given the various roster moves this past offseason.
While the next week and a half will help narrow down which players will be heading to Tampa for the March 28th Opening Day contest, the Blue Jays squad was dealt a curveball that seems all too familiar.
Catcher Danny Jansen was hit by a pitch earlier this week and suffered a small fracture of the pisiform bone in his right hand, with the club expecting him to be out for at least a couple of weeks after visiting a doctor earlier today. For those who may recall, Jansen was hit on the hands multiple times last season, an unlucky streak that saw the Jays backstop break his right middle finger last season on a pitch inside in early September.
With Jansen potentially set to begin the year on the IL, if the Wisconsin product is not ready to go come Opening Day, the Blue Jays management team will need to decide how they will construct their roster for their first series in Tampa.

Roster decisions potentially loom for the Blue Jays with Jansen’s injury and Daniel Vogelbach’s audition for a roster spot

Alejandro Kirk can carry the workload for the first week of the season but should Jansen be out for an extended period, the Jays may need to make a roster move to bring up a backup catcher in Payton Henry or Brian Serven to help fill in the gap. While this works in theory, the downside is that neither Henry nor Serven are on the 40-man roster, meaning the Jays will have to make room for one of the two catchers to fill in that void, even if it is in the short term.
The Jays are in a unique position in that they have two former catchers already on the roster who could fill in if needed, with Daulton Varsho and Isiah Kiner-Falefa both having spent time behind the plate at some point in their careers. That call will likely need to be made closer to Opening Day with regards to how Jansen is progressing with his return from the injury, as the longer he is slated to recover, the more likely the Jays will need a more permanent backup catcher to keep Varsho and IKF in their respective positions on the field.
Coincidentally, the Jansen injury isn’t the only 40-man roster decision the Blue Jays might be faced with in the coming weeks.
Daniel Vogelbach, who is in Blue Jays spring training as a non-roster invitee, has seen a lot of game action this spring and could be a candidate to break camp with the squad.
The left-handed slugger would occupy a spot on the bench and be able to work as a pinch-hitter or in the DH spot when a right-hander is on the mound, a power bat the Blue Jays could have likely used last season as well. Whether he makes the team or not is still up in the air, as the veteran bat has the home run ability the team is looking for but only has four hits through 25 at-bats, but should Schneider and the Jays think he is worthy for Opening Day, a 40-man roster spot will be needed for him as well.
Looking at the Jays’ depth, there are a few players who could be expendable although the solution doesn’t seem so easy when you look under the surface.
The Jays likely want to keep Wes Parsons in the mix given his ability to start games and the club’s lack of starting depth in the higher levels of the Minor Leagues. Right-hander Mitch White is a candidate to be the long-man in the bullpen, so his spot is considered safe at least for the time being. Should he not make the club, the Jays will have to DFA him anyway as he is out of Minor League options. That leaves Hagen Danner, Zach Pop, Yosver Zulueta and Brendon Little as pitchers who could be DFA’d to make room for Vogelbach or Jansen but there is no clear-cut favourite(s) of the group although I would argue Pop and Zulueta likely have more security compared to the other/
Additionally, the club could DFA outfielder Nathan Lukes, who likely doesn’t clear waivers given his impressive spring showing. The Jays have started using some of their infield depth in the outfield such as Addison Barger and Davis Schneider, which could make Lukes a bit more expendable should the club need a 40-man spot and want to keep the pitchers mentioned above. Infielder Ernie Clement could also be DFA’d to make room but with his impressive spring showing, he too should be making the trek to Florida to start the year.
For the time being, the Blue Jays don’t need to make any hasty decisions with their roster and can still monitor Jansen and his recovery timeline to see if a roster move will need to be made to bring in some depth behind Kirk to cover Jansen’s absence. Whether Vogelbach makes the team or not will be answered within the next two weeks but should he be packing his bags for Tampa, the Blue Jays will need to make a subsequent roster move before he dons a Jays jersey at Tropicana Field.
 

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