Blue Jays face decisions on 5 out-of-options players

Blue Jays face decisions on 5 out-of-options players

TORONTO -- When the Blue Jays put together their roster next spring, one thing they will have to consider is what to do with the players who are out of Minor League options.

Toronto currently has 10 cases on its 40-man roster. Some of the situations -- such as Josh Donaldson -- are nonfactors, while others could impact some of the roster decisions that will be made before the start of the season.

Players without options cannot be sent to the Minors without clearing waivers first. The other 29 teams would have the opportunity to claim any of those 10 players unless they remain on the 25-man roster or the disabled list for the duration of the year.

Here's a closer look at the top cases, plus a complete rundown of all the players without options:

Ryan Goins: He is a candidate for the utility-infielder role, but Darwin Barney seems to be the clear-cut favorite standing in his way. In the past, Goins has spent time working in the outfield, so it's possible he could audition for a super-utility type of role this spring. The health of Devon Travis will be a factor as well. The Blue Jays do not have to rush into a decision, but this will be something to watch late in camp.

Mike Bolsinger: Toronto acquired Bolsinger at the Trade Deadline as an insurance policy for their starting rotation. He didn't end up making a start at the big league level, and this spring, Bolsinger's opportunity should come out of the bullpen. He's an early favorite for the long reliever's role, but the 28-year-old is still going to have to earn it. Bolsinger went 3-5 with a 4.64 ERA over 54 1/3 innings at Triple-A in 2016.

A.J. Jimenez: He has been down this road before. Jimenez was out of options last spring, and Toronto had to designate him for assignment late in camp, but he ended up clearing waivers. The 26-year-old catcher was a highly regarded prospect who has not been able to stay healthy, and even in 2016, he played in only 67 games. Jimenez is the only viable option behind Russell Martin on the 40-man roster, but the Blue Jays are expected to add another catcher.

Ezequiel Carrera: On the bubble last spring, Carrera made the team as a fourth outfielder and eventually found his way into the lineup on a pretty regular basis. He figures to be used as a platoon partner for Melvin Upton Jr., but the offseason is far from over. The Blue Jays need to add at least one outfielder alongside Kevin Pillar, and a case could be made to add a second one. 

Bo Schultz: The right-hander had a difficult year as he battled back from offseason surgery and didn't start pitching regularly for Triple-A Buffalo until early May. The 31-year-old earned a relatively prominent role in 2015, but it never really happened for him this year. He posted a 5.51 ERA over 16 1/3 innings in the big leagues and a 3.74 ERA in Buffalo. The good news for Schultz is that there are plenty of jobs up for grabs in the bullpen. Roberto Osuna, Jason Grilli and Joe Biagini are the only relievers with guaranteed spots heading into camp.

Nonfactors: Donaldson, Grilli, Kendrys Morales, Steve Pearce and Justin Smoak are all out of options, but it doesn't really matter. Nobody on this list is at risk of being sent down, and even if they were, service time would have to be considered. Blue Jays manager John Gibbons indicated Smoak and Pearce will platoon at first, while Grilli figures to be a high-leverage reliever and Morales is the starting DH. Donaldson hasn't needed to worry about options for years, and that's not changing anytime soon.

Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.