Left-hander Hyun Jin Ryu, now nine months out from last summer’s Tommy John surgery, is throwing from 90 to 120 feet and still aiming for a mid-July return to the Blue Jays’ pitching staff, writes Keegan Matheson of MLB.com. He’s throwing off flat ground for now but could progress to mound work by mid-April. The timeline aligns with the goal that Ryu stated back in December, but it’s positive development that he’s progressed through his spring throwing program without setbacks and hasn’t had to push that goal further down the road.
Ryu, who’ll turn 36 later this week, is entering the final season of a four-year, $80MM contract signed prior to the 2020 season. He finished third in AL Cy Young voting during the shortened ’20 campaign and gave the Jays 31 roughly average starts in 2021 before an elbow injury limited him to 27 innings and resulted in surgery last June. If he’s indeed able to return at any point midsummer, he could be a boon to a rotation that currently is hoping for rebounds from fourth and fifth starters Jose Berrios and Yusei Kikuchi. Each of Alek Manoah, Kevin Gausman and offseason signee Chris Bassitt delivered strong results in 2022, and top prospect Ricky Tiedemann is looming as an option at some point in 2023 as well.
Turning to more immediate matters on the roster, the Blue Jays announced last night that they’ve optioned infielder Addison Barger to Triple-A, thinning the race for the team’s final bench spot in the process. Barger, a sixth-round pick in 2018, was selected to the 40-man roster back in November on the heels of a combined .308/.378/.555 showing across three minor league levels. He had a nice Grapefruit League showing, batting .294/.351/.441 in 37 trips to the plate, but the 23-year-old still has just eight regular-season games at the Triple-A level under his belt.
Barger ranks as the club’s No. 4 prospect Baseball America and landed at No. 53 on FanGraphs’ Top 100 prospect rankings heading into the 2023 season. He’s undoubtedly viewed as a key piece for the Jays in the future, but the infield already has veterans Matt Chapman, Bo Bichette and Whit Merrifield lined up from third base to second base, to say nothing of bench options like Santiago Espinal and Cavan Biggio in the mix for at-bats. As such, Barger will head to Buffalo and continue to get regular reps that might not be available to him at the MLB level.
With Barger out of the mix for now, Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet tweets that it’s likely either infielder/outfielder Otto Lopez or outfielder Nathan Lukes will claim the team’s final bench spot. Lopez, 24, went 5-for-17 with a homer, a triple and a walk playing for Canada in the World Baseball Classic and is 7-for-15 with a double and a triple in Jays camp this spring. He’s primarily been a middle infielder in the minors but has at least 500 innings in both left field and center field in his professional career. Lukes, who has yet to make his MLB debut, is hitting .278/.342/.389 in 41 spring plate appearances and can play all three outfield spots. He’d give a righty-heavy Toronto lineup another left-handed bat, whereas Lopez is another right-handed stick.
Lopez and Barger should play every day and that’s not going to be possible with the big club.
jays need a proper RH 4th Outfielder.
I think Merrifield is just as good defensively in the outfield as any proper outfielder. He doesn’t hit enough to profile as a corner outfielder but as a 4th it’s fine. I could see them plucking someone who doesn’t hang onto a roster spot at the end of spring training too. They have 40 man roster spots to work with as I don’t think they’ve yet moved Ryu or Green to the 60 day IL and they’ve already reassigned a good chunk of their NRIs so don’t seem likely to be selecting anybody in that group unless an injury occurs.
Merrifield in the OF 2144 innings, -6 DRS, -5.0 UZR, 3 OAA. A 4th OF should be a good glove/light bat. Merrifield is a good 2B that sometimes plays the OF.
That’s fine defensively. Your description of a fourth outfielder is for a team who needs to cover CF because they have big corner bats taking up a couple spots. Toronto has CF covered. If anything they really should add offense to the outfield mix.
In equivalent innings, Tapia had 5 DRS, 0.5 UZR, and -3 OAA and that wasn’t fine for the FO. They didn’t tender him a contract and the best he could do was a minor league deal. If Keirmaier goes down, they can put Springer in CF but the got Keirmaier to keep Springer in RF. Or they can put Varsho in CF but Varsho can’t hit lefties so they need a RRH 4th OF.
My understanding of UZR and DRS is that they are particularly limited to where the ball ends up and can’t capture the actual player’s movements. For that reason, I tend to lean towards OAA as a better measurement of the player’s ability and the other two metrics more a measure of the quality of information on the cards in the player’s back pocket. The team themselves probably has their own metric and even though nobody uses the eye test, Merrifield was a gold glove nominee at utility last year so at least some people believe his outfield work was good. Statcast did anyway. Tapia also couldn’t hit at all. Not that Merrifield has in the last several years either, but he’s on the roster as are a bunch of other guys who play 2B as their primary position, so it would make sense to use him in the outfield at least a little bit as he’s better defensively there than the other utility players who are all decent or better at 2B. I don’t like it. But they think he still has something to offer. Personally, I’d see if the Rockies might give up another Adrian Pinto type for Merrifield now that Rodgers is out. I don’t think there’s anything Merrifield is likely to do that Lopez can’t.
I hear you on Kiermaier and Varsho. I don’t love the roster makeup. Lukes, Merrifield, Lopez make fine enough depth. It’s the 3 at the top of the depth chart and how they fit together that make you feel like it should still be upgraded. I thought Grossman would have made sense. At this point, nothing obviously substantial is coming. But it wouldn’t surprise me if the last bench spot goes to someone from outside the organization. The out of options guy or NRI who loses the last spot on the bench roster battle on another team.
The Rockies signed Profar(LF/2B) and with Grichuk due back mid April, I can’t see the need for them to acquire a 2B. Even if they were interested they wouldn’t want a guy on an expiring contract like Merrifield. They’re not going to contend so they would want a guy like Pinto.
With the Altuve injury, the Astros might be interested in parting with Meyers for Biggio plus. Or the Nats parting ways with Robles for Biggio straight up. Both righties, both play very good defense and both hit lefties above average. Acquiring that RHH 4th means Merrifield becomes the 5th.
We have a roster crunch in the BP
I think a Richards trade can get that 4th RHH OF for platoon purposes
Lopez will do for now.
Richards won’t bring back a 4th OF unless it’s someone from the minors. The Jays have plenty of those. Richards should stick around and hope he gets back to form.
I don’t agree.
Plenty of teams would love Richards in their Pen. He’s got an elite change up. Can go multi innings and isn’t being jettisoned because of talent, because of roster space
I also disagree with Whit not being a capable OF. The eye test shows he’s fine. He’s best suited in CF because of his speed. Not corners.
Will he be a starting OF full time, no . He’d be better suited at 2nd. But as Kiermier backup. We could do much worse
If plenty of teams would love to have Richards in their pen, why wouldn’t the Jays?
Nobody in baseball does the eyetest.
Because we have the best kind of problem
Too many good arms and not enough spots
I’ll agree with you there. Pitching depth is a good thing. Having 5 players that can play 2B, that’s too much depth.
Ryu was EXCELLENT for the Dodgers. The fact that they PASSED on a seemingly reasonable price point of 80 mil for him, should have given ALL the other teams pause.
Ah yea, dodgers have an unblemished record of free agent pitcher contracts lol
That’s not even close to what he’s talking about.
All teams were well aware that Ryu was a huge injury risk. That’s why he had to settle for the contract. And the Jays are getting a reasonable value from it — a cy-contender year, an average year, a lost year and perhaps a third of a year is decent return for the price. And they always knew most of Ryu’s value was going to be in 2020, it’s just that turned out to be a short year for reasons nobody anticipated.
No world series for “Toronto” in 30 years and no chance in sight and it’s a team that’s reliant on the obese. 2023 is just going to be another lame 84-90 win season with no chance at winning the World Series for “Toronto” and the obese Vladimir Guerrero Jr consuming disgusting amounts of food while producing less than 5 WAR (he’s definitely not a superstar and never will be).
Did Vlad bang your mom and girlfriend at the same time. Ha no way you have a girlfriend
“I’m not a loser you’re a loser”
I like baseball and the jays.
You hate both, you’re openly okay with wasting your own time because you have nothing better to do with it. You rush to articles about things you hate to comment, I guess it’s the only attention you can get in your pathetic life.
I don’t understand the pure hate for Guerrero. He’s been a really good player since his debut and will only get better. It pains me to defend the Blue Jays as a division rival but their chances of winning the World Series this year as good as anyone’s
There’s no guarantee whatsoever that he will only get better- this season will already be the half decade point for him in MLB- it’s not like he’s been in the league for a year or 2. Aside from 2021, there has been nothing remarkable whatsoever and that could easily end up being the best year of his career. Other than that, he has been roughly .270/.335/.470 to go along with bad defense and terrible base running and around a 3 WAR average. He’s a good player, that’s it.
Vlad is one of only six 1Bs in the last five years who have put up a 5+ fWAR season but okay.
While spring training may not be the best indicator of how the regular season unfolds, defensively Toronto looks much better in the outfield, faster on the base paths, and better balanced based on the eleven games I have seen (missed the split squad game with Atlanta) in Dunedin. That being said, the hitting has been very inconsistent with the exception of Bichette who has looked locked in for almost all of spring training. Pitching has been very inconsistent, but that always seems to be the case with the Grapefruit League.
I think Toronto will be in the mix and would not be surprised if they win the division or finish fourth. Just too many unknowns right now.
The “Toronto” major league baseball team is worse than last season in almost every aspect and it will be reflected when they win less than 90 games this season (they “won” 92 last year).
The issue is the Jays got significantly worse offensively for improved defense in the OF. You can take one or the other of KK/ Varsho, they did not need both and it hurt them.
Dont make Varsho trade, don’t make Teoscar trade, signed KK to 1 year so that is fine, he can play CF, Springer and Teoscar on the corners with Gurriel as 4th OF.
Team is better now and in the future. The only downside is you have to fill 2+ OF next off season instead of the 1+ they currently have to fill. But you have Moreno who is better and worth more than Varsho to upgrade. Actually you just had to trade Jansen or Kirk for a decent non-star OF.
I think the word significantly is exaggerated here. Lourdes wasn’t setting any batting records. Teo was a silver slugger but a liability everywhere else.
Those are really the only losses.
If you took the team last year and lost Teo, they were still a top lineup. So by default his loss isn’t significant.
Lourdes obviously not significant either, and would have been unhappy as a 4th OF
Varsho is going to be Uber protected no matter where he hits in the lineup, top middle or bottom. He’ll easily replace Lourdes and if he breaks out could be a silver slugger himself.
If Belt had played in Roger center over the last decade he’d have a few 50 HR seasons AND they just moved RF in.
Teams gonna be just fine offensively
Even in a worst case, Vlad gets hurt. Belt can somewhat replace him without it being a massive decline. Bo gets hurt. Barger comes up and we all probably forget Bo is even hurt. Kiermier isn’t am offensively gifted player but he’s likely to get hurt, Whit plays CF while Biggio gets 2B reps with a 400 OBP w 800 slugging.
Everything is covered everywhere, even in injuries. Everyone has a backup or platoon (if Otto is 26th man)
SP seems to be in good shape, especially with Kikuchi looking rejuvenated and Ryu a great 5th option just in case
BP has too many good arms and Options are going to have guys like POP not make the roster. Pearson is probably replacing Richards or Cimber too. We have excess everywhere
Great problems to have, and great solutions to the problems, everyone’s in a situation to succeed and not have everything on 2 or 3 guys
Only thing left is to let the players play to their potential
We’re comparing on paper rosters vs realities
Jays won 92 games last year with Tapia, Zimmer, JBJ, Collins getting 700 ABs
Jays took a step back in CF offensively but every other position should/could be a wash offensively but also took steps forward in every single bench position and DH
Is this the thread I can rant about Atkins?
Varsho trade – bad
Teoscar trade – bad
Berrios extension – bad
Kikuchi signing – bad
Mitch White trade – the worst
Varsho and Teo trade is tbd
Berrios extension while bad, is bad in hindsight at the time all the data pointed to him at least being a mid rotation inning eater for 5 more years
Kikuchi who cares is a minor deal
And Mitch white trade meh.
Nick Frasso would be …up there on the Jays prospect list. He has been really good and was prior to the trade. Mitch White is not. Kikuchi deal is not minor at all given the Jays payroll (record high), that $12M/year opens up a lot of options. It also meant that the Jays couldnt improve on the Kikuchi / White roster spots as they already locked those in.
Berrios contract was always bad, especially when you look at the next year what Castillo got who is much much better. Slightly more aav, less years (this is good for the team). Berrios has generally been a mid rotation guy at his best and they gave him 7! years.
You cannot use payroll as a reason to be upset
It is quite evident payroll was not and will not be an issue for the foreseeable future.
Toronto is operating like the big market team they are, Kikuchi and his salary is actually a detriment to your argument as 20 other teams would use it as an excuse to not spend anywhere else, not just on SP
He’s also one of the best SP in the world, he’s shown it in Japan and North America. He’s not lived up to his potential, but that’s not to say he can’t.
Berrios is being paid like a #3 or 4ish. Not a #1. He’s also capable of reclaiming his spot as the #3. He’s got plenty of skill with elite stuff. It’s between his ears that’s the problem. Not his arm
Good chat tho
How did Kikuchi get that contract?
There is no logical explanation to support an answer.
Have we seen the pitching contracts the last few years ?