With options a factor, Blue Jays make cuts

With options a factor, Blue Jays make cuts

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- The Blue Jays made another round of cuts on Sunday morning, when they optioned pitchers Chad Jenkins, Kyle Drabek and Sean Nolin to Minor League camp.

It appears Toronto is putting an emphasis on keeping players who are out of options on their contracts.

Right-hander Neil Wagner faced a similar fate Friday, when he was optioned to Minor League camp. In other circumstances, Jenkins and Wagner likely would have received more consideration.

"Well, let's be honest, he is good enough to pitch in the big leagues," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said of Wagner. "He deserves to be pitching in the big leagues. But the way we are set up right now, really good pitchers, sometimes having an option works against you. You could say the same thing about Jenkins, he should be pitching in the big leagues.

"They're not far away. If somebody falters, if we keep somebody in the bullpen and they falter, and we feel like they can help us more, they'll be right back up. That's just the way the game works. Some guys that will be on the team that are out of options were in the same position they are at one time or another. That's the way the game works some times."

Casey Janssen, Sergio Santos, Brett Cecil, Steve Delabar and Aaron Loup have guaranteed jobs in the bullpen. The club has yet to make a decision on whether it will carry seven or eight relievers, leaving two or three jobs up for grabs.

Those spots will be chosen from a group that includes Esmil Rogers, Todd Redmond, Dustin McGowan and Jeremy Jeffress. On the surface, it would appear Jeffress will be the odd-man out, but that could change with two weeks remaining in camp and the possibility that injuries could eventually play a factor.

"The guys we choose to keep are very good pitchers, too," Gibbons said. "It's not like we're keeping somebody that can't pitch; we wouldn't do that. If all's equal, the guy with options -- tough luck, guy, that's just baseball."

The departures of Nolin and Drabek hardly came as a surprise, considering both were long shots to make the team. Drabek missed almost all of last season because of Tommy John surgery and still has some work to do with his command before he's a candidate for a promotion. Nolin is the Blue Jays' 10th-best prospect according to MLB.com, but he needs some more seasoning in the Minor Leagues.

Nolin, Drabek and Jenkins are all possibilities to open the year in Triple-A Buffalo's starting rotation.

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.