Top prospect Nate Pearson left off Blue Jays' roster

TORONTO -- Nate Pearson was not included on the Toronto Blue Jays' 30-man roster for Friday's opener at Tampa Bay, a move that likely will delay free-agent eligibility of the hard-throwing right-hander by a year, i.e., until after the 2026 season.

Pearson, who turns 24 on Aug. 20, was 5-4 with a 2.30 ERA in 25 starts across three minor league levels last season that included three starts at Triple-A Buffalo. He struck out 119 in 101 2/3 innings.

If he is not put on the active roster until July 29, he would be limited to 61 days of major league service in the 67-day season. That would leave him with a maximum 169 days of credited major league service this year, three days shy of the 172 days needed for a full year of credited service. Service time is adjusted this year because of the shortened season caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

A player needs six years of major league service to be eligible for free agency.

Pearson allowed four runs and five hits in 3 2/3 innings in an exhibition start at Boston's Fenway Park on Tuesday, striking out five and walking two. All four Red Sox runs came in the first inning, when Mitch Moreland hit a three-run homer.

Pearson was selected 28th overall in the 2017 amateur draft. He missed most of the 2018 season after a line drive broke a bone in his pitching arm.

Toronto opens with a five-game trip to Tampa Bay and World Series champion Washington. The Blue Jays do not know where they will play their July 29 home opener against the Nationals after the Canadian federal government denied permission to play at Rogers Centre in Toronto. The Blue Jays hoped to play in Pittsburgh but were turned down by the Pennsylvania government.

Pearson was included on a three-man taxi squad Thursday along with left-hander Ryan Borucki and catcher Caleb Joseph. Pearson and Joseph are not on the 40-man roster.

Right-hander Chase Anderson was put on the 10-day injured list because of a strained right oblique, a move retroactive to July 20.

Right-handers Wilmer Font and Elvis Luciano also are on the 10-day IL, along with infielder Brandon Drury and outfielder Jonathan Davis. Drury did not join the team in Toronto for summer training.

Toronto's 30-man roster for opening day includes 15 pitchers and 15 position players. Among the pitchers to earn spots are right-handers A.J. Cole, Thomas Hatch and Jacob Waguespack, as well as left-handers Anthony Kay and Brian Moran. Infielder Santiago Espinal was recalled from Toronto's alternate training site.