Toronto Blue Jays – MLB Trade Rumors 2020-02-26T06:28:06Z WordPress Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Mark Shapiro On Blue Jays’ Outlook]]> 2020-02-25T12:33:09Z 2020-02-25T12:33:09Z Blue Jays president Mark Shapiro discussed the state of his organization with Kaitlyn McGrath of The Athletic (subscription link). You’ll obviously want to read the full transcript for all the details, but we’ll cover a few key points here.

One of the more interesting observations from Shapiro relates to the hot stove more broadly. The precise course of the market every winter is never a given. If you went back and replayed the offseason you’d likely end up with quite different results.

Shapiro spoke of the Blue Jays’ surprise at the early free agent market development, saying that “some of the signs that happened were pretty far outside what our expectations were.” That forced the club to “adjust to what the market’s doing and still keep our values, but look at measuring what the level of inflation is, and then adjust our values for that inflation.”

One wonders whether the opposite has been true for various teams in the prior two offseasons, which were notably quiet for free agents. It remains quite the curiosity that we saw such a marked dive in spending activity for two-straight years before the market suddenly perked back up this time around.

Certainly, the Jays could’ve just shrugged and decided not to keep pace in the market bidding. Instead, it re-worked its expectations and kept after the best remaining players, ultimately walking away with quality southpaw Hyun-Jin Ryu. But stretching to land Ryu doesn’t necessarily mean the front office anticipates a postseason surge.

In terms of timing and expectation, Shapiro walked a line and avoided setting firm expectations. On the one hand, he says that upper management has “started to listen to our young players and just the power of their belief in each other … and the belief in their potential.” That’s part of the reason the club pushed for improvements this winter. At the same time, the team’s top executive isn’t setting runaway dreams. He didn’t want to cap the possibilities but also said that “.500 would be a big step forward in wins.”

So … what happens if the team does surprise and puts itself in contention in 2020? Adding more to the roster “would be spending outside of our budget, for sure,” says Shapiro — an evident nod to the fact that the club has plotted out some lower-spending years after ramping down from a 2016-18 cost inflection. But he also said that he’s “confident that we’ll get the support” from ownership when the time is right. The club is obviously dedicating attention and funds to broader building efforts; Shapiro spoke at length about the improved Dunedin facilities that he believes will help “lead to wins” in a multitude of subtle ways over the long haul.

In discussing the eventual need to ramp up the dedication of assets to the current MLB roster, Shapiro made another observation of broader interest. As he put it: “Usually, the dollars you spend at the trade deadline are not too significant because it’s part-season, partial season of salary.” It’s obviously also important that such investments are made with much greater knowledge of team need and likelihood of postseason qualification. Based upon Shapiro’s characterization, Jays fans can justifiably expect the club to push the pedal down when the young talent comes into its own and the competitive situation warrants further supplementation.

Steve Adams <![CDATA[Blue Jays To Sign Marc Rzepczynski]]> 2020-02-24T15:44:23Z 2020-02-24T15:44:23Z The Blue Jays have agreed to a minor league deal with veteran left-hander Marc Rzepczynski, manager Charlie Montoyo revealed when meeting with reporters Monday morning (Twitter link via Sportsnet’s Arden Zwelling). Rzepczynski still needs to complete his physical, but once he does, the JBA Sports client will head to Major League camp as a non-roster invitee.

Rzepczynski, 34, didn’t pitch in the big leagues in 2019 — the first time since 2008 that he didn’t pitch at least 10 innings in a big league season. Instead, the southpaw spent the year with the Diamondbacks’ Triple-A affiliate, where he pitched to a 5.04 ERA with 36 strikeouts against 28 walks in 44 innings of relief. Suffice it to say, the 2019 campaign wasn’t one of the southpaw’s best.

That said, Rzepczynski has a generally solid track record at the big league level. He’s compiled a 3.89 ERA and near-identical 3.88 FIP in 434 2/3 MLB frames — including a quality run from 2011-17 that saw him log a 3.61 earned run average (3.59 FIP) in 299 1/3 innings. It’s been two years since his last effective campaign at the MLB level, but there’s little harm in taking a speculative spring look to see a rebound appears possible.

Major League Baseball’s recent rule changes — the three-batter minimum for pitches, specifically — won’t do any favors for the man perhaps more commonly known as “Scrabble.” Rzepczynski has generally been used in a specialized left-on-left role throughout his career. Lefty hitters have mustered only a dismal .227/.296/.305 slash against him in 857 trips to the plate, but righties have had far less difficulty, as evidenced by a .280/.385/.437 output in 1035 plate appearances.

Anthony Franco <![CDATA[Trent Thornton Reportedly Favorite For Jays' Final Rotation Spot]]> 2020-02-23T16:03:06Z 2020-02-23T16:03:06Z
  • Trent Thornton is the favorite to claim the final spot in the Blue Jays’ season-opening rotation, reports Scott Mitchell of TSN. The 26-year-old actually led the Jays in innings (154.1) last season, but the results weren’t in line with what one would want from a staff ace. He posted a 4.84 ERA with slightly worse than average strikeout (22.0%) and walk (9.0%) rates. This offseason, the front office went to work on bolstering that pitching staff. They signed Hyun-Jin Ryu and Tanner Roark to multi-year deals, brought back Matt Shoemaker, and acquired Chase Anderson in a trade with Milwaukee. Another offseason addition, Shun Yamaguchi, figures to be Thornton’s biggest competition for the #5 rotation spot. Because of his experience in relief in NPB, however, Yamaguchi seems more likely to open the season in the bullpen, Mitchell reports.
  • Seeing that new-look staff in action will be a bit more difficult for some Blue Jays’ fans. Beginning this season, live Jays’ games will be blacked out on throughout Canada, reports Andrew Stoeten of the Athletic. Instead, Canadian viewers will have to subscribe to Sportsnet NOW to stream games. A subscription to that platform also offers non-baseball programming but doesn’t come with the advantage of offering live access to every MLB game in real time. It’s surely frustrating news for a certain segment of the Canadian fan base.
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Blue Jays’ Mark Shapiro On Hyun-Jin Ryu Signing]]> 2020-02-21T01:52:46Z 2020-02-21T01:52:46Z Although they were then coming off a 67-win campaign and their third straight year without a playoff berth, the Blue Jays still managed to reel in one of the offseason’s highest-ranked free agents. They added former Dodgers southpaw Hyun-Jin Ryu on a four-year, $80MM contract – the largest deal they’ve awarded since Mark Shapiro became team president late in the 2015 season. Shapiro discussed the Ryu signing, among other topics, with Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.

    Ryu was tremendous at times in Los Angeles, especially from 2018-19, and will now slot into the top of Toronto’s revamped rotation from the get-go. Still, the commitment the Blue Jays made to Ryu no doubt comes with its share of risk. The club is far from a sure thing to be an immediate contender, for one, so Ryu’s contributions early in the deal may not lead to a vast amount of team success. He’s also set to enter his age-33 season and has seldom been the picture of durability since debuting in 2013. Last year marked the first time since 2014 that Ryu threw more than 150 innings in a season.

    The Blue Jays are obviously excited about having won the Ryu derby, but Shapiro acknowledged to Davidi that “time will tell the value return” on the pact. He continued: “Free-agent starting pitching in general is a high-risk market and we’re very aware of that. That’s why we’re so careful. You don’t pound your chest over signing someone. You have all your reasons for doing it, you know the risks going in. We identified the need and felt this was one of the best opportunities for us to get better and take a step.”

    The Jays are hopeful Ryu will provide value in each year of the contract, but if most of it comes toward the beginning of it, “It’s certainly not ideal but it’s certainly not disastrous,” Shapiro said. He admitted that “contracts get more risky as a player ages, so you would expect to get more on the front side.”

    Toronto’s cognizant that it took a chance in signing Ryu, but the fact that the team has so much young, inexpensive talent gave it the necessary “financial flexibility” to make that gamble. With Ryu on the roster, Shapiro’s all the more confident that the Blue Jays are “going to be good,” thanks in part to the “mass of talent” they’ve built up in recent years.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Exploring The Jays' Roster Battles]]> 2020-02-20T22:51:56Z 2020-02-20T22:51:56Z
  • The Blue Jays face some interesting decisions with their bench mix, as the Toronto Star’s Gregor Chisholm observes that slugger Rowdy Tellez might not make the Opening Day roster.  Since minor league signing Joe Panik “is almost a sure bet to be included on the roster” as a utilityman and outfielders Derek Fisher and Anthony Alford are both out of options, this trio might have the advantage over Tellez, who is defensively limited to only first base.  Tellez has shown some strong power (25 homers, .475 slugging percentage) over 482 MLB plate appearances, though is somewhat one-dimensional at the plate, as evidenced by his .241 career average and .299 OBP.  Fisher and Alford will both need to perform well this spring to block Tellez, however, and Chisholm notes that Brandon Drury also isn’t a lock for the roster, as the Blue Jays could opt to cut Drury and just go with Panik as the primary utility player.  Since Drury was an arbitration-eligible player, releasing him before Opening Day would leave the Jays on the hook for just a small portion of his $2.05MM salary.  If Drury was released, Chisholm speculates Toronto could potentially put those savings towards signing another veteran player who might become available as teams trim their rosters in advance of the season opener.
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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Tony Fernandez Passes Away]]> 2020-02-16T05:11:46Z 2020-02-16T05:11:46Z Former five-time All-Star Tony Fernandez passed away Saturday night at age 57, according to Hector Gomez of Deportivo Z 101 (Twitter link).  Fernandez suffered a brain stroke while he was already in hospital receiving treatment for complications from kidney disease, and Fernandez was placed in an induced coma two weeks ago.

    Fernandez appeared in part of 17 Major League seasons from 1983-2001, suiting up for seven different teams but making his biggest impact with the Blue Jays.  Over four separate stints with Toronto, Fernandez played 1450 of his 2158 MLB games in a Jays uniform, and is the franchise’s all-time leader in games played, hits (1583), singles (1160), triples (72), and bWAR (37.5).  A switch-hitting offensive contributor who hit .288/.347/.399 over 8793 career plate appearances, Fernandez was even more highly regarded for his defense, winning four consecutive Gold Gloves at shortstop between 1986-89.

    Though Fernandez was dealt to the Padres along with Fred McGriff in the blockbuster December 1990 trade that brought Roberto Alomar and Joe Carter to Toronto, Fernandez returned to the Jays in time to help his old club capture its second consecutive World Series title.  The Jays re-acquired Fernandez in a June 1993 deal with the Mets, and the shortstop hit .306/.361/.442 in 390 regular season PA with the Jays in 1993, and then .333/.423/.381 over 26 plate appearances during the 1993 World Series.  Fernandez also posted a 1.022 OPS over 34 PA during the ALCS and World Series for the Indians in 1997, during the Tribe’s run to Game Seven against the eventual world champion Marlins.

    The MLB Trade Rumors staff sends our condolences and best wishes to Fernandez’s family, friends, and many fans.

    Anthony Franco <![CDATA[Randal Grichuk Likely To Start In Center Field For Blue Jays]]> 2020-02-15T14:07:14Z 2020-02-15T14:07:14Z
  • The Blue Jays are likely to enter 2020 with Randal Grichuk as their top option in center field, GM Ross Atkins confirmed (via Shi Davidi of Sportsnet). That’s not terribly surprising, as the always-sparse free agent market for center fielders has been almost completely picked over. Grichuk is coming off a disappointing 2019, the first season of a five-year extension he inked last April. Despite a career-high 31 home runs, he managed only a .232/.280/.457 line (90 wRC+) over 628 plate appearances. That at least seemed to open the door for an outside addition for the Jays, who have made some improvements around the roster this offseason. Between Grichuk’s right-handed pop and favorable Statcast ratings defensively, it seems he’s earned another opportunity to improve upon his lackluster plate discipline.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Blue Jays Shut Down Ryan Borucki]]> 2020-02-14T14:51:32Z 2020-02-14T14:49:33Z The Blue Jays have shut left-hander Ryan Borucki down due to tightness in his left elbow, tweets TSN’s Scott Mitchell. The plan is to re-evalute the 25-year-old within the next few days, but it’s clearly an ominous development after Borucki was limited to just two MLB appearances in 2019 due to elbow troubles. General manager Ross Atkins said that an MRI on Borucki has not revealed any structural damage (Twitter link via Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi).

    Borucki isn’t a household name outside of Toronto, but he’s been viewed as an important piece for the Jays as they look to emerge from a rebuilding effort. The former high school draftee ranked among Toronto’s top 20 prospects from 2014-17 before making an impressive big league debut in 2018 when he posted a 3.87 ERA in 17 starts. That season saw Borucki total 97 2/3 innings while averaging 6.2 K/9, 3.0 BB/9 and 0.65 HR/9 with a 46.8 percent ground-ball rate.

    The Blue Jays invested heavily in pitching this winter, signing free agents Hyun-Jin Ryu (four years, $80MM) and Tanner Roark (two years, $24MM) in addition to trading for Brewers righty Chase Anderson. That trio was expected to be joined by a returning Matt Shoemaker — who was excellent early in 2019 prior to tearing his ACL — and Borucki. Now, however, it’s difficult to forecast that Borucki will be a go to break camp in the Toronto rotation — or even on the active roster.

    Toronto isn’t shy on alternative options. The Jays also signed Japanese righty Shun Yamaguchi this winter, and the former Yomiuri Giant has experience as both a starter and a reliever. Trent Thornton, who paced the Jays in innings pitched last year, remains in the mix. The Blue Jays also have several young options on the cusp of MLB readiness; each of Anthony Kay, Sean Reid-Foley, Jacob Waguespack and T.J. Zeuch has already gotten his feet wet in the Majors and could be in line for a look. Others on the 40-man roster include Thomas Hatch, Yennsy Diaz, Hector Perez and Julian Merryweather.

    Whoever opens the season in the fifth spot could end up serving as a mere placeholder anyhow. The Jays have one of baseball’s premier pitching prospects in right-hander Nate Pearson. He and his triple-digit fastball are expected to make their big league debut at some point during the 2020 campaign.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Padres Claim Breyvic Valera]]> 2020-02-13T01:28:43Z 2020-02-13T01:25:52Z The Padres announced Wednesday that they’ve claimed infielder/outfielder Breyvic Valera off waivers from the Blue Jays. In order to open a spot on the 40-man roster, San Diego has placed right-hander Anderson Espinoza on the 60-day injured list. Espinoza underwent Tommy John surgery late last April.

    Valera, 28, was designated for assignment earlier this week when Toronto finalized its one-year deal with reliever Rafael Dolis. Valera spent time with both the Jays and Yankees in 2019, though he appeared in just 17 games and took just 52 plate appearances. Overall, Valera has appeared in the Majors with five teams but played in just 54 games, hitting .223/.294/.298 in 138 trips to the plate.

    Lack of MLB track record aside, the switch-hitting Valera is the owner of a .302/.374/.442 slash in 1550 plate appearances at the Triple-A level. Coupled with his defensive versatility –he’s played second base, third base and all three outfield positions — it’s easy to see why so many clubs have been intrigued by his skill set and taken brief looks at him. At this point, however, Valera has exhausted all three of his minor league option years, meaning he’ll need to break camp with the Padres (or another club) or else be traded or placed on waivers once again.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Blue Jays Catcher Reese McGuire Arrested]]> 2020-02-12T17:23:00Z 2020-02-12T17:15:54Z Blue Jays catcher Reese McGuire was arrested over the weekend near the team’s spring camp in Dunedin, according to Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi (via Twitter). He has a criminal appearance scheduled for mid-March.

    This is obviously not the way the Toronto organization anticipated launching an important Spring Training. McGuire has been expected to pair with Danny Jansen behind the dish in 2020.

    It isn’t yet clear how this matter will progress from a criminal perspective and with regard to the team and league. McGuire was charged with “exposure of sexual organs;” it seems the illicit action occurred inside a vehicle parked in a retail parking lot. Further alleged facts aren’t yet known.

    The team issued a statement indicating that it is aware of the arrest and working to gather more information, but otherwise declining comment. The league has not issued any statement (and it may not).

    McGuire, 24, is a former first-round draft pick who had run into some struggles on his way to the majors. He does not have a history of high-end offensive performances in the upper minors but has been successful thus far in the big leagues, with a .297/.343/.539 batting line through 138 plate appearances over the past two seasons.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Blue Jays’ Eric Pardinho Undergoes Tommy John Surgery]]> 2020-02-12T00:38:07Z 2020-02-12T00:38:07Z Blue Jays pitching prospect Eric Pardinho underwent Tommy John surgery earlier today and will miss the entire 2020 season as a result, tweets Baseball America’s Ben Badler. Toronto signed Brazilian-born righty for a $1.4MM bonus back in 2017.

    It’s a discouraging blow for Pardinho, who missed much of the 2019 season due to elbow troubles but was able to avoid going under the knife. Pardinho, who entered the 2019 season as one of the game’s Top 100 prospects according to both Baseball America and, was limited to just 37 2/3 frames this past season. He did, however, post a sterling 2.15 ERA with a 35-to-16 K/BB ratio when healthy enough to pitch.

    Pardinho is just 19 years of age and has yet to pitch beyond Class-A, but the news of surgery on the heels of an injury-plagued 2019 campaign means that the highly touted righty will lose nearly two full years of development. He’ll return for the 2021 season, assuming his recovery goes well, which will prove to be a pivotal year; Pardinho will need to be added to the Jays’ 40-man roster to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft in the 2021-22 offseason.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Inside The Blue Jays' Offseason, Pitching Targets]]> 2020-02-09T15:00:57Z 2020-02-09T15:00:57Z
  • The Blue Jays went into the offseason prepared to aggressively search for pitching, only to have to ramp up their approach when the free agent market moved much quicker than anticipated,’s Shi Davidi writes in a wide-ranging overview of Toronto’s winter moves.  Davidi’s piece provides a breakdown of how the Jays pursued their targets, ranging from big names (i.e. Gerrit Cole, Yasmani Grandal) on both the rotation and position player fronts, as well as looking for value by checking in with seemingly just about every pitcher available.  The Winter Meetings seemed to be a key pivot point, as one player agent told Davidi that the Jays began to take a “totally different” approach in negotiations: “It’s like they realized what they’d been doing wasn’t working and decided to change things up.”  In essence, the Toronto front office reversed its strategy, abandoning the plan of acquiring an ace-level arm first and then adding more pitchers to a new tactic of signing mid-rotation hurlers (i.e. Tanner Roark, Shun Yamaguchi) before finally landing a big fish in Hyun-Jin Ryu.
  • Adding to the long list of pitchers known to have garnered interest from the Blue Jays, Davidi reports that Toronto was also “in the mix for” both Alex Wood and Angel Sanchez.  Wood ended up signing with the Dodgers, one of his former teams, in mid-January on a one-year contract worth $4MM in guaranteed money (and another $6MM in incentives).  Sanchez bounced around multiple farm systems from 2011-17 with a Major League resume that included only 12 1/3 innings for the 2017 Pirates before finding success pitching in Korea over the last two seasons.  While Sanchez received some looks from the Jays and other MLB teams, he ended up heading from South Korea to Japan, signing a multi-year deal with the NPB’s Yomiuri Giants.
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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Blue Jays Designate Breyvic Valera For Assignment]]> 2020-02-09T12:32:38Z 2020-02-09T12:32:38Z The Blue Jays have designated infielder Breyvic Valera for assignment, as per a team announcement.  The move creates a roster spot for right-hander Rafael Dolis, whose one-year deal (with a club option) with the Jays became official yesterday.

    Valera appeared in five games for Toronto in late September, after the Jays plucked him off the Yankees’ roster via a waiver claim.  With such veterans as Joe Panik and Ruben Tejada already lined up as utility infield options in Spring Training camp, Valera was likely deemed expendable.  Should another team claim Valera during his latest trip through the DFA process, it will mark the sixth time in less than two years that Valera has switched uniforms.

    Over 54 career Major League games since the start of the 2017 season, Valera has already played for five different teams — the Blue Jays, Yankees, Orioles, Dodgers, and Cardinals, who originally signed him back in 2010.  (Valera also had a brief stint in the Giants’ farm system last season.)  The best-known of those transactions, by far, is Valera’s inclusion as part of the trade package sent from the Dodgers to Baltimore for Manny Machado in July 2018, though Valera was something of a throw-in rather than a key factor in the deal.

    The 28-year-old Valera has only a .592 OPS over 138 plate appearances in the big leagues, but he has performed reasonably well at the minor league level, hitting .299/.360/.397 over 4099 PA.  Valera has mostly worked as a second baseman, though since his best path to the Show is as a utility player, he also has quite a bit of experience around the diamond at every position besides catcher and pitcher.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Blue Jays Sign Brian Moran]]> 2020-02-08T03:52:59Z 2020-02-08T03:52:16Z
  • The Blue Jays have picked up lefty Brian Moran on a minors pact with an invitation to MLB spring training, per Shi Davidi of Sportsnet. The soft-tossing Moran, 31, made his major league debut last season with the Marlins, throwing 6 1/3 innings of three-run ball with 10 strikeouts and two walks. The majority of his work came at the Triple-A level, where he posted a 3.15 ERA/4.18 FIP with 11.55 K/9, 3.9 BB/9 and a 47.1 percent groundball rate. The Marlins designated him for assignment on Jan. 15.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Blue Jays To Sign Jake Petricka]]> 2020-02-07T16:26:50Z 2020-02-07T16:23:14Z The Blue Jays have agreed to a minor league contract with right-hander Jake Petricka, per Robert Murray (Twitter links). The Platinum Sports client will be in Major League camp on a non-roster invitation to Spring Training. He’d earn $950K if he cracks the MLB roster, Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi adds. TSN’s Scott Mitchell tweets that he can make another $400K by way of performance bonuses.

    Petricka, 31, split the 2019 season between the Brewers and Rangers organizations, allowing three runs in eight innings at the MLB level and tossing another 45 2/3 frames of 3.74 ERA ball in a very hitter-friendly Triple-A environment. He’s a familiar face for Jays fans, having spent the bulk of the 2018 season in Toronto’s bullpen. That year, the former White Sox setup man logged another 45 2/3 innings with a 4.53 ERA, 8.1 K/9, 3.2 BB/9, 1.18 HR/9 and a 51.8 percent ground-ball rate.

    The veteran Petricka has pitched in parts of seven big league seasons and accumulated more than five years of MLB service time. He’s managed a 3.96 ERA in 231 1/3 total frames and has generally been a ground-ball machine (career 59.4 percent) thanks to a heavy sinker that has averaged 94.8 mph in his career.

    Toronto has gone to great lengths to deepen its pitching staff in 2020, but there’s still some competition shaping up for the final few bullpen spots. Waiver claim Anthony Bass and offseason signees Shun Yamaguchi and Rafael Dolis could all be in the mix for high-leverage innings to bridge the gap between a rebuilt rotation and closer Ken Giles, but the other bullpen slots aren’t as clear cut. Whichever of Ryan Borucki or Trent Thornton misses out on the fifth starter’s spot could be in the mix alongside Sam Gaviglio, Thomas Pannone, Jordan Romano and the out-of-options Wilmer Font. At present, Petricka and Ryan Dull are the only veteran relievers who’ll be in camp as non-roster invitees.