- Top Blue Jays pitching prospect Ricky Tiedemann is day-to-day with inflammation in his calf and hamstring area, manager John Schneider told Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi (X links) and other reporters. It doesn’t seem like Tiedemann will be sidelined for too long since an MRI didn’t reveal any structural damage, though any kind of injury setback is perhaps more concerning given how Tiedemann missed big chunks of the 2023 season due to shoulder and biceps injuries. After pitching just 44 minor league innings last year, Tiedemann is going to be built up slowly and steadily to the point where the Jays hope he can take on more of a regular starter’s workload, and perhaps make his MLB debut before 2024 is through.
Blue Jays Rumors
The latest episode of the MLB Trade Rumors Podcast is now live on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and wherever you get your podcasts! Make sure you subscribe as well! You can also use the player at this link to listen, if you don’t use Spotify or Apple for podcasts.
This week, host Darragh McDonald is joined by Steve Adams of MLB Trade Rumors to discuss…
- The “Boras Four” lingering in free agency (1:00)
- A short-term deal for Cody Bellinger? Are the Cubs the best fit? (2:20)
- What about the Royals or some other unexpected suitor? (4:45)
- Are the Rangers essentially done, as Chris Young said? (9:10)
- Are the Giants essentially done, as Farhan Zaidi said? (11:05)
- Are the Blue Jays essentially done, as Ross Atkins said? (14:05)
- Angels owner Arte Moreno says they will have a lower budget (17:40)
- The Nationals are no longer for sale and also claim to be done adding to the roster (23:05)
- Commissioner Rob Manfred not planning to stick around (32:05)
Check out our past episodes!
- Jorge Soler, Veteran Catcher Signings and the Padres’ Payroll Crunch – listen here
- The Sale of the Orioles, Corbin Burnes Traded and Bobby Witt Jr. Extended – listen here
- The Jorge Polanco Trade, Rhys Hoskins and the Blue Jays’ Plans – listen here
The podcast intro and outro song “So Long” is provided courtesy of the band Showoff. Check out their Facebook page here!
- The Padres, Twins, Yankees, and Angels were linked to Kevin Kiermaier’s market before the outfielder re-signed with the Blue Jays, but Kiermaier told MLB.com’s Jon Paul Morosi that the Cubs, Dodgers, and Giants also had interest. Kiermaier and his family’s love of Toronto and his Jays teammates ultimately sealed his return to the Blue Jays, though it’s interesting to speculate how the four-time Gold Glover might’ve fit into his other suitors’ plans. Adding Kiermaier would’ve given the Cubs some flexibility if Pete Crow-Armstrong wasn’t ready for a starting role just yet, while depending on the timing, the Dodgers might not have re-signed Jason Heyward if Kiermaier had instead been added to the fold. Signing Kiermaier likely wouldn’t have prevented the Giants from signing Jung Hoo Lee, though Lee might’ve been ticketed for more time as a corner outfielder than in center.
With Spring Training now officially under way for the Blue Jays, right-hander Alek Manoah recently spoke to reporters as he looks to put a brutal 2023 campaign behind him. As noted by Shi Davidi of Sportsnet, Manoah is looking to put last year behind him.
“When your team is going to a playoff and you’re not there, it’s tough,” Manoah said, per Davidi. “but talking about 2023, for me is kind of not worth it. It’s in the past right now for me, which is really good.”
It’s not a surprise that Manoah prefers to leave his 2023 in the past. After a breakout season in 2022 where the right-hander pitched to a 2.24 ERA in 196 2/3 innings of work en route to an All Star appearance and third place finish in AL Cy Young award voting, Manoah struggled to a 5.87 ERA with a 6.01 FIP across 19 starts for the Blue Jays last year. Rather than reflect on his disastrous season, Davidi notes that Manoah spent the offseason overhauling his training regime and nutrition plan.
While it’s anyone’s guess how the game’s latest “best shape of his life” rebound candidate will perform on the mound this year, the 26-year-old hurler is seemingly to be penciled into the fifth spot in the club’s rotation behind Kevin Gausman, Jose Berrios, Chris Bassitt, and Yusei Kikuchi. Manoah has gotten rave reviews from others around camp this spring, including Gausman. The veteran ace told reporters (including Davidi) that his teammate “looks a lot more like himself than he ever did last year,” adding that he believes Manoah may not have been fully prepared for the impact his 2022 workload would have on him the following year.
Even as Manoah appears to be the primary candidate to round out the club’s rotation, he’s not without competition. Most notably, the Blue Jays signed right-hander Yariel Rodriguez to a five-year deal this winter. Rodriguez, 27 next month, was dominant as a reliever in Japan’s NPB but spent the 2023 campaign building himself back up to be a starting pitcher, with Toronto brass suggesting that his presence provides the club with “starting depth” that can fill multiple roles on the team. While those comments hardly indicate that Rodriguez is a favorite for a spot in the Opening Day rotation, it’s fair to wonder if the Jays could reconsider their stance if Manoah’s struggles continue throughout the spring.
Another possible alternative to Manoah in the rotation is Ricky Tiedemann, the club’s top pitching prospect. The 21-year-old southpaw made just 15 starts last year across all levels of the minor leagues, posting a 3.68 ERA in 44 innings of work, but managed to reach the Triple-A level and has long been seen as a possible contributor at the big league level for the club this season. Club manager John Schneider recently confirmed that to reporters (including MLB Network’s Jon Morosi), noting that the Jays already have a plan in place regarding Tiedemann’s workload for 2024 and that the club’s preference is for those innings to come at the big league level, provided Tiedemann proves himself ready for the opportunity.
Despite his limited workload as a professional since being drafted by the Blue Jays in the third round of the 2021 draft, Tiedemann enters the 2024 campaign as a consensus top-30 prospect in the sport and on the shortlist of the game’s very best pitching prospects alongside the likes of Andrew Painter of the Phillies, Cade Horton of the Cubs, and Kyle Harrison of the Giants. While it seems unlikely the Blue Jays would lean on Tiedemann for anything close to 30 starts this year given his minimal experience, it’s certainly possible that Tiedemann could force the issue and make it to Toronto fairly early in the season if the Jays want to maximize his big league opportunities.
Also looking to establish himself at the big league level this season is infield prospect Orelvis Martinez. The 22-year-old enjoyed a solid season in 2023 as he slashed .243/.340/.496 in 125 games split between the Double- and Triple-A levels last year. While Martinez has spent the vast majority of his professional career on the left side of the infield, he saw increasing time at second base last year and Morosi adds that Schneider has indicated he’ll continue to focus on the keystone headed into the 2024 season. There should be opportunities for Martinez to work himself into the club’s infield mix, as following the departures of Matt Chapman and Whit Merrifield via free agency the club has no certain starter at either second or third base. The likes of Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Justin Turner, Davis Schneider, Cavan Biggio, and Santiago Espinal all figure to spend time on the dirt for the club this winter alongside stars Bo Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
While the likes of Manoah, Tiedemann, and Martinez all figure to impact the club for years to come, the same can’t currently be said for catcher Danny Jansen, who’s entering his final year under club control in 2024. Jansen recently spoke to reporters (including MLB.com’s Keegan Matheson) regarding his future, noting that he and the club have “had conversations” about the possibility of him remaining in Toronto following the 2024 campaign. While Jansen made clear that “he’s not closing any doors” on a return, his focus is on the coming season at this point.
The backstop, who turns 29 in April, has enjoyed something of a breakout over the past two seasons, slashing .242/.324/.493 combined with strong defense behind the plate. That offense is good for a 127 wRC+, a figure which ranks fourth in the majors among catchers over that timeframe behind only Adley Rutschman, Willson Contreras, and William Contreras. That being said, Jansen has appeared in just 158 games over the past two seasons due to a combination of injury woes and the presence of 25-year-old backstop Alejandro Kirk, who has gotten the lion’s share of playing time each of the past two seasons in Toronto.
TODAY: Vogelbach will earn $2MM if he makes the Jays’ active roster, as per Jon Heyman (via X).
FEB. 16: The Blue Jays are in agreement with designated hitter Daniel Vogelbach on a free agent deal, reports Robert Murray of FanSided (X link). The ISE Baseball client inks a minor league deal with an invite to big league Spring Training, reports Jon Heyman of the New York Post (on X).
Vogelbach has spent the past year and a half in Queens. The Mets acquired the left-handed hitter from the Pirates in a swap for reliever Colin Holderman at the 2022 deadline. Vogelbach had a strong finish to the ’22 campaign, hitting .255/.393/.436 in 55 contests. He didn’t maintain that production last season.
In 319 plate appearances, Vogelbach hit .233/.339/.404 with 13 home runs. He walked at a strong 13.2% clip while striking out a little more than a quarter of the time. The overall offensive production was marginally above average, but it wasn’t the kind of performance needed to compensate for his limited role. Vogelbach didn’t log a single defensive inning and hasn’t started a game in the field since 2021. The Mets also shielded him almost completely from left-handed pitching. Vogelbach faced an opposing southpaw just 16 times all year.
There’s limited roster utility for a platoon DH. That puts a lot of pressure on Vogelbach to hit very well against right-handed pitching. He did that two seasons ago when he turned in a .261/.382/.497 line in pitcher-friendly home parks with Pittsburgh and New York. After last year’s diminished output, the Mets opted not to tender him an arbitration contract that would likely have landed in the $2-3MM range.
Vogelbach will battle in camp for the role that Brandon Belt played a year ago. The Jays deployed the longtime Giant as a lefty-hitting platoon DH. Belt had a strong season but now looks likely to sign elsewhere in free agency. The Jays brought in righty-swinging Justin Turner to serve as their primary DH and occasional option at the corner infield spots. Vogelbach isn’t going to take the larger half of a platoon from Turner, but he could vie for a spot as a lefty bench bat who picks up some starts at DH if Turner needs a day off or gets the nod in the infield.
Commissioner Rob Manfred addressed future All-Star host sites as part of his media scrum on Thursday. While the plans have not been finalized, Manfred implied that the Blue Jays and Cubs have good chances to host the festivities in 2027 and ’28 (link via Evan Drellich of the Athletic).
“With respect to those two years, I am strongly influenced by two things. One, when did you last have a game? Toronto stacks up pretty well on that variable. I think Chicago is older,” the commissioner said. “The city being willing to step up on those issues is the other big variable. Our All-Star (events), what’s become most of the week, we need certain facilities and certain kinds of support in terms of security.”
Toronto has not hosted the All-Star Game since 1991, the only such time in franchise history. The city of Chicago has hosted seven times, more than any other save New York. Chicago last hosted in 2003, although that was at the White Sox’s stadium (then known as U.S. Cellular Field). The All-Star Game was last played at Wrigley Field in 1990. The Friendly Confines has hosted on three occasions: 1947, ’62, and ’90.
The next three All-Star host cities are already finalized. It’ll be in Arlington this summer, the first time Texas hosts since opening Globe Life Field four years ago. The festivities go Atlanta in 2025. (The Braves were originally slated to host in 2021 but MLB moved that year’s game to Colorado in response to Georgia election laws.) Philadelphia was awarded the ’26 Midsummer Classic to coincide with celebrations of the 250th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.
The 2027-28 games will be the final of Manfred’s tenure as commissioner. He announced yesterday that he’ll retire at the end of his current term in January ’29.
As the Blue Jays opened Spring Training, general manager Ross Atkins met with reporters yesterday. The GM implied the bulk of the club’s offseason activity was complete, minimizing the chance of making an impactful free agent strike without offloading someone from the roster.
“At this point, additions that would be of significance would mean some level of subtraction,” Atkins said (link via Kaitlyn McGrath of the Athletic). “We feel good about the team that we have. Feel good about the work that’s been done over the last five offseasons, the last four trade deadlines and now coming into another trade deadline, we’ll have another opportunity, I hope, that we’re in a strong position to add to that team (and) I know that we will.”
It wasn’t quite as firm a declaration that the team was finished with notable acquisitions as executives with other clubs (i.e. Nationals, Rangers) have made. Atkins noted the Jays remain in contact with player representatives as a large number of free agents are still unsigned. It nevertheless downplays the chance of Toronto jumping in on anything more than depth additions.
That’s an apparent reflection of a franchise-high payroll. Roster Resource projects their 2024 spending in the $236MM range. Their competitive balance tax figure sits around $249MM, into the first tier of luxury tax penalization. Toronto paid the tax a year ago, so they’re subject to heightened penalties. They’re taxed at a 30% rate on spending up to $257MM and a 42% rate on the next $20MM, with higher penalties in the unlikely event they push past the $277MM mark.
On the one hand, the Jays have pushed their Opening Day spending past last year’s approximate $210MM figure. Team president Mark Shapiro suggested at the beginning of the offseason they anticipated keeping payroll steady. They have instead increased spending. Yet the Jays have also come up empty on their most significant free agent swings. They’d been linked to high-profile targets from Shohei Ohtani to Jorge Soler.
Their largest guarantee was a five-year, $32MM pact for Cuban swingman Yariel Rodríguez. They signed Isiah Kiner-Falefa to a two-year, $15MM deal and inked one-year pacts with Justin Turner ($13MM) and Kevin Kiermaier ($10.5MM).
While Atkins didn’t address any specific free agents — team personnel are prohibited from declaring themselves out of the market on individual players — his comments seem most notable with regards to Matt Chapman. The Jays appeared an on-paper fit to bring Chapman back. Their closest direct replacement at third base is Kiner-Falefa. Coming off a .242/.306/.340 platform showing that is broadly in line with his career numbers, Kiner-Falefa is better suited as a utility player for a team with playoff aspirations.
Toronto also allowed Whit Merrifield to hit free agency. He’s expected to make his signing decision within the coming days. While a return to Toronto isn’t out of the question, the Jays look content to allow a handful of multi-positional types to battle for playing time at second and third base.
Beyond Kiner-Falefa, the Jays have Cavan Biggio, Santiago Espinal, Davis Schneider, Ernie Clement and prospects Orelvis Martinez, Addison Barger and Leo Jimenez on the 40-man roster. None of Martinez, Jimenez or Barger has played in the majors. All three have reached Triple-A, although Jimenez struggled in a brief look there last year. They’re longer shots to make the Opening Day roster. Veteran Eduardo Escobar will also be in camp after agreeing to a minor league contract last night.
Biggio, Espinal and Schneider are virtual locks to make the team. They’ve all shown flashes in their careers but none is a clear everyday player. Biggio had a league average .235/.340/.370 line over 339 plate appearances a season ago. After posting solid offensive numbers in his first two seasons, he has been an average or slightly worse hitter three years running.
Espinal was a surprising All-Star selection amidst an impressive 2022 campaign. His production dropped precipitously last year, as he hit .248/.310/.335 over 254 plate appearances. Schneider had a scorching start to his MLB career after being called up last August. He raked at a .426/.526/.894 clip over his first few weeks before slumping to a .174/.321/.406 line while striking out a third of the time in September. It was still an extremely impressive debut showing in aggregate, yet he’ll have to make his own adjustments as he faces MLB pitching over a full season for the first time. Clement, meanwhile, has been a utility player throughout his career. He’s out of options, so he’d have to secure a spot on the Opening Day bench or be placed on waivers.
Manager John Schneider told reporters yesterday that Biggio is a bit delayed after battling tendinitis in his left shoulder this offseason (relayed by Keegan Matheson of MLB.com). He is not yet facing live pitching. Assuming he’s ready by Opening Day, he’s likely to compete with Kiner-Falefa and Espinal at third base. Davis Schneider has split his time in the minors fairly evenly between second and third. John Schneider said that Davis Schneider is focused on second base and left field as his main positions for the upcoming season (via Shi Davidi of Sportsnet).
TODAY: Shi Davidi of Sportsnet reports that Escobar’s deal is a minor league arrangement.
Feb 15, 10:44pm: Escobar and the Jays are in agreement on a contract pending a physical, reports Jon Heyman of the New York Post (on X). Terms of the deal remain unreported. Escobar is represented by DJ Rengifo y Associates.
9:55pm: Infielder Eduardo Escobar is nearing agreement on a free agent deal with the Blue Jays, reports Robert Murray of FanSided (X link). It’s not known if the former All-Star is closing in on a big league contract or a minor league pact with a non-roster invite to Spring Training.
Escobar, 35, is coming off a disappointing 2023 campaign. He opened the season as the Mets’ third baseman but began the year in a dreadful slump. Escobar carried a .125/.173/.229 line into the middle of April and lost the starting job to Brett Baty. The 13-year MLB veteran turned things around in a depth role but seemed a bit superfluous on the New York roster once Baty was recalled.
The Angels, reeling with infield injuries in late June, acquired Escobar for a pair of minor league pitchers. He didn’t produce much offensively, slumping to a .219/.259/.303 slash over 59 contests. The Halos made the obvious call to buy him out for $500K at year’s end as opposed to retaining him via $9MM team option.
Escobar finished the season with a combined .226/.269/.344 batting line in 309 trips to the plate. He struck out in a little more than a quarter of his plate appearances against a 5.8% walk percentage. While he has never had great strikeout and walk numbers, Escobar’s power production dropped off sharply. He hit six home runs after topping the 20-homer mark in each of the prior five full schedules. That was the result of a significant uptick in ground-balls and a drop in his hard contact rate.
The Jays will hope for something more closely approximating his 2021-22 form. Escobar was a slightly above-average hitter in each of those seasons and combined for a .247/.305/.452 showing with 48 longballs over that stretch.
Escobar’s defensive grades have dropped off as he’s gotten into his mid-30s. He can play any of first, second or third base but received below-average marks at all three spots (although his first base experience is limited enough that it’s difficult to draw conclusions about his glovework there).
Toronto has a number of upper level infield options but doesn’t have much certainty at either second or third base. Last year’s primary starters, Whit Merrifield and Matt Chapman, are free agents. The Jays brought in Isiah Kiner-Falefa on a two-year pact. Davis Schneider, Cavan Biggio, Santiago Espinal, Ernie Clement and prospect Addison Barger are all on the 40-man roster and could vie for reps at one or both positions.
9:48pm: López still has one minor league option remaining, reports Andrew Baggarly of the Athletic (on X). That affords San Francisco the freedom to send him to Triple-A without putting him on waivers.
2:07pm: The Giants have acquired infielder/outfielder Otto López from the Blue Jays, per announcements from both clubs. The Blue Jays, who designated López for assignment last week, receive cash considerations in return. In order to open a spot on their roster, the Giants designated outfielder TJ Hopkins for assignment.
López, 25, was designated for assignment by the Blue Jays when the team finalized its five-year deal with right-hander Yariel Rodriguez. The right-handed hitter has appeared in sparse MLB action over the past two seasons. He’s 6-for-10 during that time (all singles) but has spent the bulk of his 2022-23 seasons in Triple-A Buffalo. He had a big year at the plate with Buffalo in ’22, hitting .297/.378/.415 in 391 plate appearances, but López declined across the board this past season, slashing just .258/.313/.343 in a comparable amount of playing time.
While López has long rated among the Jays’ top 30 prospects due to a plus hit tool and above-average speed, he has bottom-of-the-scale power (seven homers in 931 Triple-A plate appearances). He’s punched out in just 15% of his Triple-A plate appearances but hasn’t walked at an especially high clip (8.3%). And for all the speed he possesses, López’s 70.8% success rate in 518 minor league games (90-for-127) is below average.
López brings some versatility to the Giants’ bench, but he also adds another right-handed bat to an infield mix that’s already crowded with such options. He’s played second base, shortstop, third base and all three outfield positions, though scouts question whether he has the arm to play on the left side of the diamond. He’ll be in the mix for playing time alongside J.D. Davis, Wilmer Flores and Thairo Estrada around the infield — if he sticks on the 40-man roster. It’s also possible the Giants simply try to pass López through waivers, which would allow them to keep him in the organization at Triple-A without dedicating a 40-man roster spot.
Hopkins, 27, made his MLB debut this past season with the Reds and went 7-for-41 (all singles) with a pair of walks and 17 strikeouts in 44 plate appearances. It was hardly an eye-catching debut, but the 2019 ninth-rounder’s production in Triple-A Louisville was far more intriguing. In his first full season at the top minor league level, Hopkins delivered a robust .308/.411/.514 batting line with a 14% walk rate, 23.9% strikeout rate, 16 home runs, 18 doubles, a triple and a pair of steals. Cincinnati designated him for assignment in December, and the Giants acquired him in exchange for cash.
Hopkins has played primarily left field in his professional career but has plenty of experience in right field and center field as well. He’s been an average or better hitter at every minor league stop and steadily improved both his walk and strikeout rates as he’s climbed the minor league ladder. He still has a pair of minor league options remaining. That could make him an intriguing fit for clubs seeking low-cost right-handed-hitting options to add to the outfield mix. The Red Sox, Twins and Padres are among the teams in that boat. San Francisco will have a week to trade Hopkins or attempt to pass him through outright waivers.
After a lengthy wait, the Blue Jays have formally announced their signing of right-hander Yariel Rodriguez. It’s a five-year, $32MM deal for Rodriguez, per the team, as opposed to the four years and $32MM that was previously reported. In order to open a spot on the 40-man roster, Toronto has designated utilityman Otto Lopez for assignment. Rodriguez is jointly represented by WME and Born To Play.
Kaitlyn McGrath of The Athletic reports that the fifth year on Rodriguez’s contract is a player option valued at $6MM. If Rodriguez declines that option, the team will then have the ability to exercise a $10MM club option. That could take the contract to $36MM over five years, though Francys Romero reports that the total money can climb as high as $40MM, which suggests there are some additional incentives baked into the arrangement.
It’s been more than three weeks since Rodriguez and the Jays agreed to terms on a contract, but he’s been unable to finalize the pact while awaiting a visa allowing him to enter either Canada or the United States. The expectation has been that whenever Rodriguez acquired the requisite documentation to enter either country, a physical would be completed and the deal would be finalized in short order.
Just 26 years old, Rodriguez has starred for los Ganaderos de Camaguey in his native Cuba and for the Chunichi Dragons in Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball. His work in NPB, in particular, caught the eye of Major League scouts, and with good reason. Rodriguez’s 3.03 ERA in three seasons with the Dragons is impressive on its own, but his most recent season featured 54 2/3 overwhelmingly dominant innings: a 1.15 ERA, 27.5% strikeout rate and 8.2% walk rate out of the Chunichi bullpen.
It should be noted, of course, that those numbers came during the 2022 NPB season — not in 2023. Rodriguez pitched for Team Cuba during last year’s World Baseball Classic but did not return to the Dragons for the 2023 season as he set his sights on a move to Major League Baseball. The Dragons placed him on the restricted list for the 2023 season and granted him his release in early November. He’s since hosted multiple showcases for MLB teams and been viewed as one of the more fascinating free agents on the market.
Of course, Rodriguez is also one of the most volatile free agents in play this winter; it’s hard enough to project how much of a player’s success in the Cuban National Series and/or in NPB might carry over to an MLB setting — but that’s all the more complicated when he didn’t even pitch during the preceding season outside of a brief WBC appearance. There’s a good bit of upside, to be sure, but given the long layoff, acclimation to a new culture and step up in overall level off competition, there’s a wide range of plausible outcomes for Rodriguez in MLB — specifically in his first season.
It’s not yet clear just what role Rodriguez will fill with the Jays. He made some starts in NPB but worked primarily as a reliever — exclusively so in his final season with the Dragons. Back in Cuba, be worked primarily out of the Camaguey rotation. Toronto general manager Ross Atkins issued a statement today praising Rodriguez’s ability to generate swings and misses before noting that he provides “starting depth” but could also fill multiple roles on the team.
Given Rodriguez’s lengthy layoff from pitching — and even lengthier layoff from working a full starting pitcher’s workload — it’d be a surprise to see him jump right into the Jays’ rotation. In all likelihood, he’ll be on an innings cap this year, and it’s even possible that Toronto could want to get him some work in Triple-A before thrusting him into the MLB spotlight. Logically speaking, it’s natural to think he could fill a long relief/spot starter role and build up innings this year, with an eye toward stepping into the 2025 rotation on a more permanent basis. But, if the Jays have a need in the late innings Rodriguez clearly has the raw stuff to pitch in that type of leverage role as well.
Baseball America’s Kyle Glaser profiled Rodriguez and several other international free agents (Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Shota Imanaga, Jung Hoo Lee, Yuki Matsui, Woo Suk Go) earlier in the offseason, writing that Rodriguez’s fastball sits around 96 mph and can reach triple digits on occasion. Glaser credited the hard-throwing Rodriguez with an above-average slider but called his splitter “fringy” and his curveball “below-average.” The Jays could certainly help the 6’1″ Rodriguez refine some of those offspeed offerings, but even if he’s operating with “only” a plus heater and above-average slider, that could be enough to make him a viable big league setup man or multi-inning reliever.
As for the 25-year-old Lopez, he’ll now be traded or placed on outright waivers within the coming week. The right-handed hitter has appeared in the big leagues sparingly over the past two seasons, collecting six singles in ten at-bats. Lopez looked to be on the cusp of breaking through to the majors for a larger opportunity when he batted .297/.378/.415 in 391 Triple-A plate appearances in 2022, but his bat took a sizable step back in 2023, evidenced by a tepid .258/.313/.343 slash in 346 plate appearances at that same level.
Scouting reports on Lopez have touted his plus hit tool and speed, but he has bottom-of-the-scale power, evidenced by the fact that he’s never topped five homers in a season and has just seven long balls in 931 Triple-A plate appearances. He’s swiped 90 bases in 518 minor league games but has only a 70.8% success rate. Lopez has seen time at second base, shortstop, third base and in the outfield, but skeptics question whether he has the arm to play on the left side of the infield.
Because he’s out of minor league options, Lopez would’ve needed to make the Blue Jays Opening Day roster or else be traded elsewhere or placed on waivers (likely following a DFA). The Jays made the move proactively rather than carry Lopez throughout spring training. He’ll now be available to the other 29 clubs via trade or waivers, but any team that acquires him will need to carry Lopez on its own Opening Day roster or else try to pass Lopez through waivers before sending him down to the minors.