The 2019 Toronto Blue Jays are a shell of their former selves. There are only four returnees from last year’s Opening Day roster. Gone is Josh Donaldson, Russell Martin, Aledmys Diaz and Curtis Granderson.
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Devon Travis remains a member of the Blue Jays, but he’s currently sidelined with an injury. That leaves five new faces in the Opening Day lineup. Not to mention, the team’s Opening Day starter from one year ago — JA Happ — is elsewhere, too.
The 2019 Blue Jays are a stark contrast compared to one year ago. On Opening Day, fans may find themselves asking, “Who’s that guy?” Here’s a guide to the brand new faces on the Blue Jays roster this year.
1. Freddy Galvis (shortstop)
OFFICIAL: We've signed INF Freddy Galvis to a 1-year contract with a club option for 2020.
To make room on our 40-man roster, RHP Danny Barnes has been designated for assignment. pic.twitter.com/MqPXgy2Bug
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) January 29, 2019
Freddy Galvis signed as a free agent with the Blue Jays on a one-year deal. Fantasy baseball owners may remember him as the former starting shortstop for the Philadelphia Phillies and the San Diego Padres.
Galvis is a workhorse at the shortstop position as he played every single regular season game the last two years. Over the last four seasons, no one in baseball has been more durable than the seven-year veteran, as Galvis averaged just over 158 games played a season.
He’s a career .246 hitter, but Galvis is revered for his defensive work at shortstop and his ability to uncanny ability to stay healthy through a 162-game campaign.
2. Matt Shoemaker (starting pitcher)
OFFICIAL: We've signed RHP Matt Shoemaker to a 1-year contract.
Shoemaker holds a career 3.93 ERA over 6 seasons in the big leagues. pic.twitter.com/Wi12VKrUM2
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) December 28, 2018
Sporting an unmistakable beard, Matt Shoemaker is one of the most recognizable new faces on the Blue Jays in 2019. Prior to his release from the Los Angeles Angels, he finished second in AL Rookie of the Year voting in his 2014 season.
Shoemaker’s career arc is similar to that of Aaron Sanchez, meaning they’ve both missed significant time due to injuries over the past two seasons. Shoemaker made a late-season return to the Angels in 2018 and put up great numbers down the stretch.
3. Clayton Richard (starting pitcher)
OFFICIAL: We've acquired LHP Clayton Richard and cash considerations from the @Padres in exchange for Minor League OF Connor Panas.
To make room on our 40-man roster, RHP Oliver Drake has been designated for assignment. pic.twitter.com/6tz1gI0wu4
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) December 30, 2018
As of this moment, at 35 years old, Clayton Richard is the oldest member of the 2019 Toronto Blue Jays. He came to the Jays via trade from the San Diego Padres, as the Padres ate half of Richard’s $3 million salary.
Richard is a lefty ground ball specialist and forecasts to eat some innings for the Blue Jays. As a pitcher moving from Petco Park to Rogers Centre, his numbers will likely spike in 2019, but the Jays desperately need him to make starts for this inexperienced starting rotation.
4. Daniel Hudson (reliever)
OFFICIAL: We've signed RHP Daniel Hudson to a 1-year contract. Hudson holds a 3.99 ERA over 9 @MLB seasons.
To make room on the 40-man roster, 2B Devon Travis has been placed on the 60-day IL. pic.twitter.com/W8P4M4P5eD
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) March 25, 2019
After a slew of injuries to the Blue Jays’ bullpen last week, the club turned around and inked veteran right-hander Daniel Hudson to a one-year deal. He’ll make $1.5 million as a reliever with the Blue Jays this year.
5. Elvis Luciano (reliever)
Welcome, Elvis! pic.twitter.com/AEUaLae7L3
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) December 13, 2018
And then there’s young 19-year-old Elvis Luciano. He was a rather unconventional Rule-5 pick by the Blue Jays over the winter, but due to the slew of injuries in the bullpen, Luciano will likely get a look as a reliever.
The Blue Jays are hoping they can strike gold twice as they turned Joe Biagini — a Rule-5 pick in 2016 — into a prominent member of their bullpen during the 2016 season.
6. Trent Thornton (starting pitcher)
96 mph fastball ✔️
Nasty curveball ✔️
Introducing our new righty and AFL Fall Star — Trent Thornton! pic.twitter.com/ewYeZtIl0Q
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) November 21, 2018
With Ryan Borucki on the shelf in the short-term, 25-year-old Trent Thornton will take his place in the Blue Jays starting rotation. Thornton was acquired from the Houston Astros in exchange for infielder Aledmys Diaz.
Thornton ranks as the organization’s 15th top prospect (according to MLB Pipeline) and figures to pitch plenty of innings this year for the Blue Jays as a member of the back end of the rotation.
7. Javy Guerra (reliever)
Javy Guerra is an eight-year veteran who knows his way around the big leagues. He last pitched for the Miami Marlins last year and appeared in 32 games while striking out 30 batters and walking 12.
Guerra pitched his way onto the Blue Jays roster after an impressive Spring Training campaign. With an arsenal including a mid-90’s fastball, he profiles as a low leverage reliever for the Blue Jays.
8. David Phelps (reliever – injured list)
OFFICIAL: We've signed RHP David Phelps to a 1-year contract with a club option for 2020.
Phelps owns a 3.89 ERA over 6 MLB seasons. pic.twitter.com/n0t2i7vzuc
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) January 12, 2019
Technically, David Phelps is on the Blue Jays’ 40-man roster, but he’s currently rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. The timeline for his return may not arrive until later this season as he missed the entire 2018 campaign after going under the knife.
However, the Blue Jays hold a 2020 option with Phelps, so if they like what they see from him in 2019, they can bring him back next year at a base salary of $1 million.
9. Clay Buchholz (starting pitcher – rehabbing)
OFFICIAL: We've signed RHP Clay Buchholz to a 1-year contract. Buchholz went 7-2 with a 2.01 ERA in 2018.
To make room on our 40-man roster, Dwight Smith Jr. has been designated for assignment. pic.twitter.com/QyAbC6WErK
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) March 5, 2019
In early March, the Blue Jays signed veteran right-hander Clay Buchholz to a one-year contract for $3 million. Since he signed so late in the spring, he’s still working his way up to increase his workload, but if healthy, he provides some veteran stability to the Blue Jays rotation.