Blue Jays announce Spring Training schedule

Blue Jays announce Spring Training schedule

TORONTO -- Major League Baseball's offseason has only just begun, but already it feels like Spring Training is just around the corner. With approximately three months until the start of camp, Toronto announced its home schedule for the 2018 Grapefruit League season on Friday morning.

The Blue Jays will host 16 games, and every American League East rival will make one trip to Dunedin Stadium in 2018. The spring home opener will take place against Philadelphia on Feb. 23, while the club's final tune-up will come on March 26-27 with a two-game exhibition series against the Cardinals in Montreal.

Blue Jays' 2018 Spring Training schedule 

The spring schedule was released just days after the city of Dunedin voted to approve more than $6 million in funding for a new Blue Jays facility. Toronto still needs approval from the state and county, but all signs point to the Blue Jays eventually finalizing a 25-year lease and moving forward on an $81 million project to upgrade the stadium and the Bobby Mattick Training Center.

Following Dunedin's approval, Pinellas County must approve $41.7 million in funding for the renovations to move forward. Then, the Blue Jays have to apply for funds from the state that have been specially earmarked for Spring Training facilities. Dunedin's funding was considered to be the biggest obstacle in making sure the Blue Jays remain in Central Florida beyond 2018.

"It's great for our Dunedin businesses and great for our community, they've been a good community sponsor and partner," Dunedin Deputy Commissioner Maureen Freany told Tampa Bay's NPR station. "In the end, after a lot of hard-fought negotiations, I believe we're here because the city of Dunedin wants the Blue Jays to stay, they want the marriage to continue."

However, the negotiations are not expected to impact 2018 Spring Training. The Blue Jays will continue to work out at the Bobby Mattick Training Center across town and then move into the stadium full time once the spring schedule gets under way.

The Blue Jays will once again host their annual spring game against the Canadian Junior Team on March 17. Toronto typically uses the opportunity to feature its Canadian talent, while Greg Hamilton's junior squad uses it to gain invaluable experience and also showcase its homegrown talent to Major League scouts.

Toronto's spring schedule for away games has yet to be officially unveiled, but the club announced it will be playing split-squad games on March 7, 17 and 22. The Blue Jays will play the Yankees on Feb. 27, Boston on March 12, Baltimore on March 9 and Tampa Bay on March 22. Three-game packs, season tickets and group tickets for the Blue Jays' 2018 Grapefruit League schedule will be available for purchase starting at 9 a.m. ET on Monday.

Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.