The Blue Jays made a nice pick-up by signing Freddy Galvis on Tuesday, but then made the surprising decision to designate Danny Barnes for assignment in order to make room on the 40 man roster.
With just a couple of weeks until pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training, I expected that the Blue Jays would be adding potential bullpen arms this week, not subtracting them.
So while I was pleased and even impressed with the signing of Freddy Galvis to shore up the middle infield for the 2019 season, I was very surprised to see that Danny Barnes was the player removed from the 40 man roster in order to make room. Someone had to go, but I did not expect it to be a reliever, nor did I think that Barnes would be the one chosen.
To be clear, the 29 year old wasn’t good last season when he put up a 5.71 ERA across 47 appearances and 41 innings pitched, but he had shown promise prior to that. In 2017 he threw 66 innings and even worked some late-game spots as well, finishing the year with a respectable 3.55 ERA. He also posted a WHIP of 1.091 and a K/9 of 8.3, which seemed to be trending in the right direction. Personally, I thought that Barnes would take a step forward into a late-inning role last season, but his struggles prevented him from getting that opportunity.
While his recent numbers would suggest that the decision to designate him for assignment isn’t that surprising, the state of the Blue Jays bullpen made me believe that he would be safe, at least for the time being. As things currently stand the Jays have a depth chart that should include Ken Giles, Ryan Tepera, David Phelps, and possibly others like Tim Mayza and Joe Biagini, but there doesn’t seem to be a group of seven or more guarantees for the bullpen, which is why allowing Barnes to potentially leave for nothing is surprising to me.
In fact, I would have assumed that he sat ahead of someone like Biagini on the depth chart, but obviously that’s not the case. Beyond someone like Biagini though, I’m also surprised that the Blue Jays are holding 40 man roster spots for so many outfielders, especially ones that they don’t seem to have in their immediate plans. A good example is Dalton Pompey, who I personally hope to see get another shot in Toronto in 2019, but last year it seemed like that ship had sailed and a separation was inevitable. As of this writing he remains on the 40 man roster, as do others like Jonathan Davis, and Dwight Smith Jr.
#BlueJays sign SS Freddy Galvis to $4m, one-year deal with club option for 2020. Danny Barnes designated for assignment to clear spot on 40-man roster.
1:32 AM – Jan 30, 2019
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There’s also the fact that Barnes remains pre-arbitration eligible on his contract, which means he would have earned a relatively small salary for 2019 if he had been on the roster throughout the season. Last year he made $561,000, and he won’t be eligible for arbitration until 2020, so salary wasn’t the issue by any means. Not that budget should be a concern for the Blue Jays at this point anyway, but that obviously wasn’t the problem here.
If Barnes had been removed from the 40 man because of a bullpen upgrade then the decision would make more sense to me, but at this stage I’m pretty surprised. Perhaps it’ll all make sense in a few weeks once the Blue Jays had added a few more pieces, but there’s no guarantee that’ll happen before Spring Training begins, or before Opening Day either.