The 40-Man Roster

Friday, January 03 2003 @ 12:00 PM EST

Contributed by: Jordan

The Blue Jays designated lefty reliever Jason Kershner for assignment yesterday, bringing the roster numbers down to exactly 40. Kershner, picked up on waivers by Toronto from the Padres late last season, pitched well down the stretch and looked like the second southpaw out of the pen after Doug Creek this year.

Why designate him for assignment now? Well, maneuvers such as these are necessary before trading someone -- and there's that small matter of John-Ford Griffin yet to be resolved. And Scott Wiggins is always available to be the second lefty if required. Let's see how this works out: I'd be surprised if Kershner is simply ticketed for AAA with nothing more.

At the moment, then, the Blue Jays' 40-man roster looks like this (likely 2003 destination in brackets):



Roy Halladay (R, Toronto)
Mark Hendrickson (L, Toronto)
Cory Lidle (R, Toronto)
Tanyon Sturtze (R, Toronto)
Pete Walker (R, Toronto)
Justin Miller (R, Toronto)

Vinny Chulk (R, Syracuse)
Pasqual Coco (R, Syracuse)
Corey Thurman (R, Syracuse)
Mike Smith (R, Syracuse)

Diegomar Markwell (L, New Haven)
Francisco Rosario (R, Disabled List/New Haven)


Doug Creek (L, Toronto)
Kelvim Escobar (R, Toronto)
Aquilino Lopez (R, Toronto)
Cliff Politte (R, Toronto)
Jeff Tam (R, Toronto)

Brian Bowles (R, Syracuse)
Bob File (R, Syracuse)
Gary Majewski (R, Syracuse/back to ChiSox)


Greg Myers (Toronto)
Tom Wilson (Toronto)

Kevin Cash (Syracuse/Toronto)
Ken Huckaby (Toronto/Syracuse)

Guillermo Quiroz (New Haven)

Dave Berg (Toronto)
Mike Bordick (Toronto)
Carlos Delgado (Toronto)
Eric Hinske (Toronto)
Orlando Hudson (Toronto)
Josh Phelps (Toronto)
Chris Woodward (Toronto)

Dominic Rich (New Haven/Syracuse)

Frank Catalanotto (Toronto)
Shannon Stewart (Toronto)
Vernon Wells (Toronto)
DeWayne Wise (Toronto)

Jayson Werth (Syracuse/Toronto)

Jason Dubois (New Haven?)
Alexis Rios (New Haven)

This is likely not the 40-man roster we'll see when spring training opens. For one thing, indications are that JP is still talking with other starting pitchers, most notably former Rockie and Met John Thomson (whom I would love to see in a Toronto uniform, if only for the chance that there's anything left of the fine pitcher that Coors Field ground into dust). If Thomson or another starter is signed, then two of these guys are headed for either the bullpen or Syracuse; for my money, it'd be Justin Miller refining his control in the International League and Pete Walker becoming the long reliever/spot starter. Projected ML rotation: Halladay, Lidle, Thomson, Sturtze, Hendrickson, with Miller replacing Thomson if the latter isn't signed. But in any event, somone would have to be tossed off the 40-man to make room if the Jays signed Thomson or another starter. At this point, that looks like Pasqual Coco to me.

Then there's the three Rule 5 acquisitions. Aquilino Lopez will almost certainly stay with Toronto all season long. If there are lingering doubts about Lopez's ability to compete, they were further reduced by his terrific performance in the Dominican League this off-season: 2-1, 3.35, 48 IP, 36 H, 12 BB, 54 K. Now, the Dominican League isn't a much better predictor of ML success than the Arizona Fall League, but those are still mighty impressive numbers. Barring a spring-training Aquiline meltdown, I don't see the Mariners getting Lopez back. The Blue Jays sure do like Jason Dubois, and it appears they're negotiating a trade with the Cubs that would allow them to keep Dubois and send him down, probably to New Haven, to continue his development. That leaves Gary Majewski, who shows every sign of being a useful major-leaguer someday, but who is the likeliest player to be on the bubble if JP acquires another body for the 40-man (barring a similar arrangement with the White Sox, of course, a trade that would allow them to stash Majewski on a minor-league roster).The off-season isn't over yet, and this roster is subject to change without notice.

(There's also JP's version of Godot, John-Ford Griffin, to consider. Apparently he's still going to come to Toronto in a separate deal, one that shouldn't cost anyone on the 40-man. At the same time, the Jays might not need a roster spot for J-F: he's not on Oakland's 40-man at the moment, so presumably he wouldn't need to be on Toronto's either.)

A few more comments on the roster:

- the Blue Jays certainly won't keep more than three catchers on the major-league club, so when Kevin Cash is ready, either Tom Wilson or Ken Huckaby will return to upper New York State. Since Wilson mashes lefties and this team needs all the help it can get against portsiders, Huckaby seems the likelier RH catcher to go. It's even possible the team could start the year with just Myers and Wilson in Toronto, allowing Huckaby to go down and play Mike Bordick to Cash's Chris Woodward. If there's a major-league roster crunch come March 31, that may be the solution.

- Jayson Werth likely will start the season in Syracuse, since he's going to be a fourth outfielder or platoon right-fielder at best for Toronto, and that's not what he needs right now, not with substantial holes still apparent in his swing. If the Jays can't work out a deal for Dubois and are forced to carry him on the ML roster all year (something that would complete the RF platoon nicely but that would not benefit young Jason tremendously), then Werth is even more assured of a AAA stay.

- JP undoubtedly would like a more reliable RH platoon partner for Frank Catalanotto in RF, and if he finds one in the non-tender bin come February or in spring training come March, then the spotlight shifts directly to DeWayne Wise. I suspect DeWayne's spring training performance may dictate his future with Toronto, not just on the 25-man roster but in the organization itself. If he doesn't put up a strong line in Dunedin and a Bruce Aven or someone similar tears the cover off the ball, then it may be the end of the line for the former Rule 5 choice.

- That's going to be one impressive pitching staff in Syracuse. If Toronto does sign a John Thomson or similar ML arm, then the Skychiefs will be able to choose from among these starting options:

Justin Miller
Jason Arnold
Mike Smith
Corey Thurman
Vinny Chulk
Pasqual Coco
Evan Thomas
Doug Linton
Josh Towers

That, my friends, is what you call depth. And consider that Thomas, Linton or Towers could conceivably break camp and head north with the Jays if they have sufficiently strong springs. Every Blue Jays starting hopeful not named Halladay should be on his toes in Dunedin: competition figures to be very intense.

It's all systems go for the Blue Jays right now. I think we can look forward to one more starter and one more Griffin, as well as any stray major-leaguers looking for work come February. But the bulk of this team's upper-level roster is set, and the transformation of the Toronto Blue Jays is nearing completion. Take note once again: only Carlos Delgado, Shannon Stewart, Chris Woodward, Roy Halladay and Kelvim Escobar remain from the major-league roster JP inherited From Gord Ash just one short year ago. Wow.