The Blue Jays have designated Chris Colabello off their 25-man roster now that the first baseman’s 80-game PED suspension is over and he has been reinstated from the restricted list, Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports (Twitter link). This isn’t a standard case of a player being designated for assignment, as Colabello is still on Toronto’s 40-man roster. As Brendan Kennedy of the Toronto Star notes, the move is akin to the Jays simply optioning Colabello to the minors.
Colabello was a surprisingly big contributor to Toronto’s 2015 AL East championship team, hitting .321/.367/.520 with 15 home runs over 360 plate appearances. The Jays entered the season planning to platoon Colabello and Justin Smoak at first (with Edwin Encarnacion getting the occasional start but mostly seeing DH duty), though Colabello got off to an ice-cold start, with just two hits in his first 32 PA of 2016. It’s reasonable to guess that the impending PED suspension may have been weighing on Colabello’s mind, given that he was first informed of his positive result on March 13 and was appealing the result.
In theory, Colabello’s reinstatement could help the Jays, especially given that Smoak has posted barely replacement-level numbers. GM Ross Atkins, however, was recently rather non-committal about Colabello’s role with the team, especially since Colabello won’t be eligible for postseason play under the terms of the league PED policy. While the Jays have mostly been linked to pitching upgrades on the trade deadline rumor mill, they’ve also been connected to outfielders like Melvin Upton Jr., Josh Reddick and Jay Bruce. Getting a new regular outfielder would force Encarnacion or Jose Bautista into more action at first, leaving no room for Smoak or Colabello in the everyday lineup.