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.

Mike Napoli and Rays have “mutual interest” in a deal

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Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times unloaded a lot of interesting news items about the Rays last night, including a report that the Rays might have “mutual interest” in a deal with free agent first baseman/DH Mike Napoli. The Rangers declined Napoli’s $11 million option earlier this month and owe the veteran infielder a $2.5 million buyout.

Napoli, 36, had a strange year in Texas. He turned in 29 home runs, good for 11th-most among AL hitters, but finished the year batting just .193/.285/.428 over 485 plate appearances. According to FanGraphs, his -0.5 fWAR was the worst mark of his career to date, but on the bright side, he should come cheap for a team looking to swap out their veterans come spring.

Of course, the specifics of the Rays’ offseason plan have yet to be divulged — or, by all accounts from Topkin, even decided on. The club could go the refurbishment route, changing out some of their higher-paid veterans for a mix of prospects and cheaper aging players; or they could opt for a full rebuild, which Topkin cautions against as it could have a negative effect on the financing of a new ballpark. Either way, the Rays figure to offload some of their bigger contracts this winter, and will need to decide if they want to retain Alex Colome, Chris Archer, Wilson Ramos, Evan Longoria and others before pursuing any other major free agents.