The following 40-man roster players have less than five years service time and are out of minor league options. That means they must clear waivers before being sent to the minors, so the team would be at risk of losing them in attempting to do so. I've included players on multiyear deals. This list was compiled through MLBTR's sources. Today, we'll take a look at the AL East.
Back on February 20th, Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos spoke about beginning the season with an eight-man bullpen, as they did in 2013, partially because of the desire not to lose a player, according to MLB.com's Gregor Chisholm. Cecil, Santos, Casey Janssen, Steve Delabar, and Aaron Loup are the locks.
Perez has already been sent to minor league camp, with the Jays expected to buy some time by putting him on the DL to start the season. Dustin McGowan is under contract on a multiyear deal, and was not listed above because he has over seven years of big league service. Still, the Jays will have to find a spot if they wish to retain him, and they probably will. McGowan, Rogers, Redmond, and Jeffress are part of the fifth starter competition, as outlined by Rosie DiManno of the Toronto Star on Friday. In theory, all four could be retained: one in the rotation, the other three filling out the bullpen. That scenario would involve sending Neil Wagner and other solid pitchers to Triple-A, establishing strong depth but perhaps not putting the team's best 13 pitchers on the Opening Day roster. A trade would be another way to find some breathing room. The Jays are known to be in the mix for Ervin Santana, who would take a rotation spot and have a ripple effect on the above-named players.
Sierra seems to have a good shot at the team's last bench spot partially because of his lack of minor league options. It's another case where making the decision to retain the player might be less than ideal, as Sierra would have to be the team's fourth outfielder over the defensively superior Anthony Gose. Sierra would also platoon at DH with Adam Lind and could pitch in at first base, however.
Orioles: Edgmer Escalona, Chris Davis, Tommy Hunter, Troy Patton, Nolan Reimold, Chris Tillman, Zach Britton, Kelvin De La Cruz, David Lough, Brian Matusz, Steve Pearce, Francisco Peguero, Josh Stinson
The Orioles' list includes a staggering 13 players. Let's start with the team's rotation. We can project three members with certainty: Ubaldo Jimenez, Chris Tillman, and Wei-Yin Chen. At this moment, Miguel Gonzalez and Bud Norris would grab the two remaining spots. Two of the above-named pitchers, Britton and Matusz, had been among those competing for the fifth starter job before Jimenez was signed. Further muddying the picture, as explained by Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun today, is the pursuit of Ervin Santana. Additionally, Suk-min Yoon and Johan Santana will come into play later in the season.
Connolly notes that Norris or Gonzalez could move to the bullpen if necessary. Hunter, Darren O'Day, Ryan Webb, and Matusz seem to be locks for the pen. A 25-game amphetamine suspension for Patton takes him out of the picture for most of April. That leaves Escalona, De La Cruz, Britton, and Stinson as out of options pitchers competing for three likely spots, with Steve Johnson, Alfredo Aceves, T.J. McFarland, and Evan Meek also in the mix. You may recall the Orioles were loose with 40-man roster spots in the offseason, giving them to Escalona, De La Cruz, and Peguero despite scant big league experience. Retaining them now requires putting them on the 25-man roster. This situation seems to call for a trade or two.
As the backup center fielder, Lough is assured a spot on the roster. The Cruz signing takes away at-bats from Reimold, but he still seems likely to make the team. Peguero or Pearce could take the final roster spot, but only by beating out the other candidates in camp, such as Delmon Young, Xavier Paul, Julio Borbon, Quintin Berry, and Henry Urrutia. There seems a good chance Peguero or Pearce is exposed to waivers; perhaps both. Again, a minor trade could make sense in the coming weeks.
Archer is a lock for the Rays' rotation, while Ramos is battling pitchers such as Erik Bedard, Jake Odorizzi, Nate Karns, and Alex Colome for the fifth starter job until Jeremy Hellickson's projected late May return. If he doesn't win the job, Ramos would go back to the Rays' bullpen.
McGee is a lock for a bullpen job, as are Grant Balfour, Heath Bell, and Joel Peralta. Juan Carlos Oviedo has yet to report to camp due to visa issues, but he's expected to take a spot as well. If Ramos doesn't win the rotation job, that leaves one potential opening for Lueke. Late last month, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times named Brad Boxberger, Brandon Gomes, and Mark Lowe as other candidates, choosing Lueke as the favorite given his option situation.
Joyce is a lock for a roster spot. If the Rays go with a traditional fifth outfielder, Guyer could snag the job, as Roger Mooney of The Tampa Tribune explained late last month. The team could also use Sean Rodriguez or Ben Zobrist as the fifth outfielder.
Doubront is penciled into Boston's rotation. Carp has a bench spot locked down, though he did pop up in recent trade rumors.
Nova is a key piece of the Yankees' rotation, while Cervelli is highly likely to break camp as the backup catcher.