DUNEDIN, Fla. – The release of Ezequiel Carrera barely impacts the Blue Jays’ outfield depth chart, but it will provide the 30-year-old outfielder with the chance to find an expanded opportunity with another team. In that sense, Carrera could be better off elsewhere.
“That’s a big part of it,” manager John Gibbons said after the team announced Carrera’s release Sunday morning. “Z’s done a tremendous job for us over the last few years. It’s tough. He’s one of the good guys, but it’s a business and the way we had configured the team, there was no spot for him.”
The Blue Jays’ big-league outfield will consist of Kevin Pillar in centre, Randal Grichuk in right and Curtis Granderson and Steve Pearce in left. There’s not even room at triple-A because Teoscar Hernandez, Anthony Alford, Dalton Pompey and Dwight Smith Jr. are all expected to get regular playing time with the Bisons. Speedster Roemon Fields spent most of last year there, too, complicating playing time decisions in Buffalo.
Simply put, the opportunity for Carrera simply didn’t exist in Toronto anymore, but now that he’s a free agent he’s free to sign with any team. Because they cut him early in spring, the Blue Jays aren’t responsible for the entire $1.9 million he would have earned as a member of the opening day roster, but they still owe him 30 days of termination pay, or about $316,000.
A left-handed hitter, Carrera batted .282 with a .356 on-base percentage in 2017, when he appeared in 131 games. He played all three outfield positions and profiles as a capable extra outfielder on a big-league bench.
“He’s got a chance to catch on with someone else, and I think he will and I think he’ll do a great job for someone,” Gibbons said.
TWO ARMS OPTIONED
At this point in the spring, the Blue Jays want to get longer looks at the candidates for the big-league pitching staff, and it was with that goal in mind that they optioned Ryan Borucki and Thomas Pannone Sunday. Both left-handers are expected to open the season in the triple-A rotation after strong showings in big-league camp.
“I thought they did a great job, and they’re a big part of this team’s future,” Gibbons said. “They’ve just got to go down there now and get some innings in.”
Borucki won’t have to wait long for his next chance against big-league competition, as he’s expected to pitch against the Red Sox when the Blue Jays travel south to Fort Myers on Thursday.
PEARCE UP AND RUNNING
The Blue Jays plan for Pearce to run Sunday and Monday as he recovers from left calf tightness that initially sidelined him March 4. If all goes well, Pearce could be ready to play again by Thursday.
“He’s doing fine, we’ve just got to make sure we don’t push it too quickly,” Gibbons said.
At this point, Pearce has plenty of time to prepare for opening day, but the Blue Jays are prepared for any contingency as Hernandez offers right-handed hitting outfield depth behind him.
POMPEY DAY TO DAY
Dalton Pompey had been scheduled to start in right field Sunday, but a sore right wrist sidelined him and Roemon Fields took his place in the starting lineup. Pompey, who played Saturday against the Tigers, got treatment on his right wrist Sunday afternoon and is now considered day to day.