2:15pm: The move is now official; Petricka has indeed been optioned.
2:05pm: The Blue Jays are promoting outfield prospect Anthony Alford, according to Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca (via Twitter). Toronto has removed reliever Jake Petricka from the active roster, per Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca (via Twitter), though the precise mechanism is not yet clear.
Alford had previously received an exceedingly brief promotion in the 2017 season. But he suffered a fractured hamate bone almost immediately upon reaching the bigs. He ended up recording 68 days of MLB service on the year, but very little of it came on the active roster.
The 23-year-old has long been regarded as a high-end prospect. He has received consensus top-100 leaguewide billing entering each of the past three seasons (including the present one). Alford has drawn praise for his broad and fairly well-developed skillset despite limited time as a professional.
Thus far in 2018, however, Alford has struggled. He has recorded just six hits (one for extra bases) in his 42 plate appearances at Triple-A. Of course, he also was still working back to health after opening the year on the DL owing to a hamstring strain.
Given the struggles out of the gate, it’s a bit surprising at first glance to see this move. That said, the Jays may simply be looking to buttress their position-player unit temporarily while dealing with the absences of Steve Pearce and Randal Grichuk. With Curtis Granderson exiting yesterday’s contest with a tight hamstring, the club may simply have taken the easiest path to adding another outfielder for a few days.
As things stand, then, it’s not at all clear that Alford is set to receive a full run at the MLB level. If he does, though, he could finish the current season with over one full year of service. (In addition to the time he had already, Alford added another twenty days due to the DL stint.) Should that come to pass, he’d reach arbitration eligibility in 2021 and free agency in 2024. If not, those milestones would occur one year further (at the soonest).
For Petricka, the departure comes the day after his contract was purchased and he made it onto the active roster. He gave up one earned run on three hits, while recording two strikeouts, in 1 1/3 innings yesterday. Petricka does have options remaining, so it’s possible he’ll remain on the 40-man while heading back to Buffalo.