Jose Bautista

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.

Rotation
1. Ricky Romero
2. Brandon Morrow
3. Brett Cecil
4. Kyle Drabek
5. Mark Rzepczynski
6. Jesse Litsch
7. Dustin McGowan
8. Scott Richmond
9. Brad Mills
10. Zach Stewart
11. Robert Ray
12. Jo-Jo Reyes
13. Joel Carreno

The Blue Jays still have quite a bit of pitching depth, but it’s mostly fringe guys. Barring a miracle recovery from McGowan, the only pitcher outside their top five with any real chance of being an above average starter this year is Stewart. I’m skeptical that Morrow can throw 200 innings and I don’t expect big things from Drabek as a rookie, so I’m not very high on this group.

Bullpen
1. Octavio Dotel
2. Jon Rauch
3. Frank Francisco
4. Jason Frasor
5. Casey Janssen
6. Shawn Camp
7. Carlos Villanueva
8. David Purcey
9. Josh Roenicke
10. Jesse Carlson
11. Winston Abreu
12. Jo-Jo Reyes
13. Chad Cordero
14. Wilfredo Ledezma
15. Rommie Lewis
16. Brian Stokes
17. Alan Farina
18. Luis Perez

The Jays have restocked their pen, bringing in three right-handers with closing experience to help replace Kevin Gregg and Scott Downs. It will be interesting to see what the next move here is. With seven veteran right-handers all worthy of jobs, there doesn’t appear to be any room for Purcey or Carlson at the moment. The team may well trade Frasor to open up a spot for one of the lefties.

Catcher
1. J.P. Arencibia
2. Jose Molina
3. Brian Jeroloman
4. Ryan Budde

First base
1. Adam Lind
2. Edwin Encarnacion
3. David Cooper

Second base
1. Aaron Hill
2. John McDonald
3. Mike McCoy

Third base
1. Jose Bautista
2. Mike McCoy
3. John McDonald
4. Brett Lawrie
5. Edwin Encarnacion

Shortstop
1. Yunel Escobar
2. John McDonald
3. Mike McCoy
4. Adeiny Hechavarria

The Jays traded for both Miguel Olivo and Mike Napoli in their winter maneuverings, yet Arencibia still appears poised to become their regular catcher. He’ll be an out machine, but he could hit 15-20 homers. … There are no potential starting third basemen left in free agency, so barring a trade, it looks like Bautista will start at the hot corner. Maybe Lawrie will be ready in July, but it’s more likely that he’ll need a full season in the minors.

Left field
1. Juan Rivera
2. Travis Snider
3. Corey Patterson
4. Mike McCoy

Center field
1. Rajai Davis
2. Corey Patterson
3. Darin Mastroianni

Right field
1. Travis Snider
2. Jose Bautista
3. Eric Thames
4. Corey Patterson

Designated hitter
1. Edwin Encarnacion
2. Juan Rivera
3. Adam Lind
4. David Cooper

If they can’t grab a third baseman, the Jays do need to go get themselves another outfield option. Lastings Milledge would make a lot of sense, given that he still has some upside and he wasn’t that bad last season. Such a pickup would create competition in left field and at DH. If the Jays acquire a third baseman, then Bautista would play right, Snider would shift to left and Rivera and Encarnacion would battle for the DH job.

Evan Gattis undergoes surgery for hernia; recovery is 4-6 weeks

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Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle shares the bad news

One of the Astros’ big bats won’t be taking hacks when the Astros hold their first full workout on Feb. 23.

Astros designated hitter Evan Gattis recently underwent surgery to repair a hernia, the Chronicle has learned, taking away most of his spring training at a minimum. The recovery is four to six weeks but fortunately for Gattis and the Astros, the injury is not considered severe.

Gattis was working hard on his overall conditioning this winter, even telling MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart in late January that he had already dropped 18 pounds. It sounds like the big slugger might have gone a bit overboard with those workouts, and now he is in real danger of missing the first couple weeks of the 2016 regular season.

Gattis batted .246/.285/.463 with 27 home runs and 88 RBI in 153 games last season for the Astros. The 29-year-old is arbitration-eligible for the first time in his career and has a hearing with the Astros scheduled for February 16 to determine his salary for 2016. He requested $3.8 million and was offered $3 million when figures were exchanged a little over three weeks ago.

Suddenly the Astros’ front office might have a new talking point for those arbitrators.

Seung-Hwan Oh finally receives his work visa, will be on time for Cardinals camp

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At last check, new Cardinals reliever Seung-Hwan Oh was still awaiting a work visa from the United States Embassy in South Korea and there was some worry that he might not be able to arrive on time to spring training in Jupiter, Florida.

But that is now officially a non-story.

Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Oh has recieved his work visa and is expected to report to Cardinals camp next week along with the rest of the club’s pitchers and catchers. Oh might even show up a bit earlier than the Cardinals originally asked him to, per Goold.

Oh saved 357 games in 11 seasons between Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball and the Korea Baseball Organization before inking a one-year contract with St. Louis this winter. He also registered a stellar 1.81 ERA and 772 strikeouts across 646 total innings in Asia, earning the nickname “The Final Boss.”

Oh is expected to work in a setup role this year for Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal.

John Lamb had back surgery in December, will likely get off to late start in 2016

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John Lamb was part of the Reds’ return package in last July’s Johnny Cueto trade and he had a strong showing at the Triple-A level in 2015. But the young left-hander posted a 5.80 ERA in a 10-start cup of coffee with Cincinnati late last season — his first 10 appearances as a major leaguer — and now comes word from MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon that Lamb will probably have to get off to a late start in 2016.

Lamb underwent surgery in December to repair a herniated disc in his back — a surgery that went unreported by the Reds until Tuesday afternoon. Reds manager Bryan Price acknowledged on MLB Network that Lamb is behind the team’s other starting pitchers and will likely open the coming season on the disabled list. The hope is that he might be ready by mid-April.

It’s a small but frustrating blow for a rebuilding Reds team that will be looking to establish some foundational pieces in 2016. Once he is recovered, Lamb will be expected to fill the Reds’ fifth rotation spot behind Raisel Iglesias, Anthony DeSclafani, Brandon Finnegan, and Michael Lorenzen.

This is going to be an ugly year for Cincinnati baseball fans.

Yu Darvish will report to spring training on time, hopes to begin mound work in March

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Rangers ace Yu Darvish missed the entire 2015 season after undergoing Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery last March 17. Most starting pitchers take 13-15 months to fully recover from that procedure, and the Rangers aren’t counting on Darvish until sometime this May.

His rehab so far has gone on without issue.

Darvish offered some very positive updates Tuesday to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram …

Darvish, 29, boasts a 3.27 ERA and 1.196 WHIP in 83 career major league starts. He can also claim a whopping 680 strikeouts in 545 1/3 career major league innings.

Texas has him under contract for $10 million in 2016 and $11 million in 2017.