Diving into the depths: Toronto Blue Jays

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This is part of a 30-article series looking at each team’s depth chart headed into spring training.
Toronto Blue Jays
Rotation
1. Shaun Marcum
2. Ricky Romero
3. Brandon Morrow
4. Mark Rzepczynski
5. Brett Cecil
6. Scott Richmond
7. Brian Tallet
8. David Purcey
9. Dustin McGowan
10. Robert Ray
11. Brad Mills
12. Kyle Drabek
13. Zach Jackson
14. Zach Stewart
15. Lance Broadway
16. Reidier Gonzalez
Of course, they’re not all serious threats for the rotation, but the Jays always manage to go through some pitchers. They’ll enter spring with three spots pretty much set, and Rzepczynski should be the clear favorite for the fourth.
McGowan is supposed to be ready to pitch this spring after missing most of the last two years, but odds are that he’ll begin the year rehabbing in the minors. Drabek should be a factor come June or July, and Jesse Litsch, who is on the way back from Tommy John surgery, could join the rotation after the All-Star break.
Bullpen
1. Jason Frasor
2. Scott Downs
3. Casey Janssen
4. Brian Tallet
5. Jeremy Accardo
6. Jesse Carlson
7. Shawn Camp
8. Josh Roenicke
9. Dick Hayhurst
10. Zech Zinicola
11. Zach Jackson
12. Luis Perez
13. Sean Henn
14. Willie Collazo
Everyone in the top nine here is a holdover from last year. The Jays have relief depth to part with in trade if they want to go that route. As is, they wouldn’t seem to have room for Roenicke or Hayhurst unless Tallet finds himself back in the rotation. Frasor and Downs, though, are both free agents after the season, and Accardo, who wanted to be non-tendered last month, would still like to move on to a team that would grant him a bigger role.


Catcher
1. John Buck
2. Raul Chavez
3. J.P. Arencibia
4. Kyle Phillips
5. Brian Jeroloman
First base
1. Lyle Overbay
2. Adam Lind
3. Brett Wallace
4. Brian Dopirak
Second base
1. Aaron Hill
2. John McDonald
3. Jarrett Hoffpauir
4. Mike McCoy
Third base
1. Edwin Encarnacion
2. Jose Bautista
3. John McDonald
4. Mike McCoy
5. Brett Wallace
Shortstop
1. Alex Gonzalez
2. John McDonald
3. Brian Bocock
The Jays have filled two of the three holes in their lineup, but Buck and Gonzalez aren’t more than stopgaps. Worse, they’re not just filling in for a year while younger talents develop. Arencibia has been a bust since being drafted 21st overall in 2007, and the Jays’ best catching prospect now is likely Travis D’Arnaud, a 20-year-old picked up in the Roy Halladay deal. At shortstop, Toronto has to hold out hope that Justin Jackson will learn to hit. Neither D’Arnaud nor Jackson figures to be a factor until 2012.
Left field
1. Travis Snider
2. Randy Ruiz
3. Jose Bautista
4. Joey Gathright
5. Chris Lubanski
Center field
1. Vernon Wells
2. Joey Gathright
3. Jose Bautista
4. Jorge Padilla
Right field
1. Jose Bautista
2. Randy Ruiz
3. Joey Gathright
4. Jorge Padilla
Designated hitter
1. Adam Lind
2. Randy Ruiz
3. Brett Wallace
4. Brian Dopirak
The thinking earlier this winter was that Overbay would be traded and Lind would be tried at first base. That doesn’t seem likely to materialize now, and the Jays might just keep Lind in the DH role in preparation for eventually turning first base over to Wallace.
Right field is the biggest remaining question mark. I wouldn’t mind seeing Encarnacion out there, with Bautista or a free agent at third. However, there’s been nothing to suggest it might happen. The Jays will probably sign a cheap veteran (Rick Ankiel?) and push Bautista back into a bench role.
Since the Jays haven’t addressed their outfield at all, it does look like Snider is safe. The Jays wanted to force him to win the job in spring training, but it looks like the competition will be less than stellar.

Report: Royals and Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 12:  Eric Hosmer #35 of the Kansas City Royals and the American League rounds the bases after hitting a home run against the National League in the 2nd inning of the 87th Annual MLB All-Star Game at PETCO Park on July 12, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
Denis Poroy/Getty Images
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Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Royals and first baseman Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension. However, Hosmer also indicated that he will head into free agency if a deal is not consummated by Opening Day.

Hosmer, 27, avoided arbitration with the Royals last month, agreeing to a $12.25 million salary for the 2017 season. He is one of four key Royals players who can become a free agent after the season along with Mike Moustakas, Alcides Escobar, and Lorenzo Cain. If Hosmer does reach free agency, he would arguably be the top free agent first baseman.

Hosmer finished the past season hitting .266/.328/.433 with 25 home runs and 104 RBI while making his first All-Star team.

Yankees sign Jon Niese to a minor league deal

PHOENIX, AZ - AUGUST 17:  Jonathon Niese #49 of the New York Mets delivers a pitch during the first inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on August 17, 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images
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Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Yankees have signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, pending a physical. Assuming the deal is finalized, Sherman notes that the Yankees will have Niese work as both a starter and a reliever in big league camp this spring.

According to Sherman, the Yankees were interested in lefty relievers Jerry Blevins and Boone Logan, but didn’t want to commit at their asking prices. They are looking for a lefty set-up man along with Tommy Lane.

Niese, 30, pitched for the Pirates and Mets last season, finishing with a 5.50 ERA and an 88/47 K/BB ratio over 121 innings.