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Three roadmaps for addressing Blue Jays’ remaining off-season needs



Although the MLB off-season has ground to a halt under the weight of a lockout that came into effect on Tuesday, that doesn’t mean that work is done for front offices.

The current environment will curb transactions for the time but teams — including the Toronto Blue Jays — will continue to plan out the possible courses they will take to improve their competitive chances when an agreement is reached. In Toronto’s case, despite signing Kevin Gausman and Yimi Garcia, there are both clear holes remaining on the roster, and resources to put against filling them.

The conceivable paths the Blue Jays could take to finish off their roster are numerous beyond measure, and there is no way to predict exactly what they’ll do. That said, we thought it would be a fun exercise to flesh out a couple of the avenues available to the team with three possible plans — each putting an emphasis on a different area of need (SP, RP, 2B/3B), but addressing all three.


Before we lay them out, the rules are fourfold:

1. The Blue Jays won’t add more than $25 million dollars to the payroll. There is an endless debate to be had about what the team could conceivably spend, but this represents a reasonable cap on what they might add to the current cost of the roster.

2. Only one trade is allowed. In theory it’s easy to add a number of low-cost players if you’re willing to empty out the farm system, but the Blue Jays are unlikely to do that — especially after the José Berríos trade in July. That doesn’t mean a major trade is off the table — it isn’t — but more than one is a stretch.

3. All players traded for must be either rumoured to be available, or have limited team control and reside on teams unlikely to compete in 2022.

4. Free agent contracts, where possible, will be based on an average of FanGraphs and MLBTradeRumors contract projections. Neither is perfect, but both averaged together helps ground contract proposals in something concrete.


With all the rules and regulations out of the way, let’s get to the fun part.

With a lockout looming, many thought this MLB off-season would unfold slowly. Instead, the condensed timeline made it one of the busiest in memory.

Plan A: Focus on the infield

The transactions:

Blue Jays trade 3B/SS Jordan Groshans, 3B/SS Kevin Smith, and RHP Trent Palmer to the Oakland Athletics for 3B Matt Chapman

Blue Jays sign Danny Duffy to a one-year, $12-million contract


Blue Jays sign Sean Doolittle to a one-year $2.5-million contract

What it costs: $24 million in 2022 plus Chapman’s arbitration salary in 2023

How it works: Although Chapman’s salary in 2022 (projected at $9.5 million) isn’t the biggest cash outlay in this plan, the prospect capital put against his acquisition is significant.

Groshans seems to find his way into this trade because Gabriel Moreno and Orelvis Martinez are borderline untouchable, but the Athletics need a blue-chip prospect for a player who ranked eighth in the majors in position-player WAR between 2018-2020. He’s also a potential replacement for Chapman at the hot corner as soon as 2023.

Smith is the type of player Oakland has often liked in the past considering he’s versatile and heady as opposed to overflowing with raw tools. He could help the A’s in 2022, which is appealing for a club that is always re-tooling as opposed to tearing down.


Palmer is coming off a third-round pick coming off a solid pro debut in Dunedin where he flashed exciting strikeout ability (11.86 K/9), got ground balls at an excellent clip (50 percent) and didn’t allow a single home run in 63 innings. If he can get his walks under control, he could blossom as a prospect, and Oakland could see this as the right time to buy in on the right-hander.

That’s quite the package, but not what Chapman might have commanded in the past thanks to the troubling trend in the Gold Glover’s strikeout rate…

… but even if he never recaptures his prior offensive form, the 28-year-old has an unbelievable floor thanks to his world-class defensive prowess. He might frustrate Blue Jays fans as yet another right-handed hitter with power who struggles to get on base consistently, but it’s hard to knock the all-around fit.

MLBTR projected Duffy to get a one-year, $10-million contract, and FanGraphs to secure a two-year, $21-million pact, so in this scenario the Blue Jays split the difference in term by offering a higher AAV to keep it at one year. The team is already paying significant money to Gausman, Berríos, and Hyun-Jin Ryu through 2023, so it would make sense for them to avoid signing another starter to a multi-year pact.

While Toronto isn’t the most natural landing spot for a pitcher looking for a pillow contract, the Pete Walker-led pitching analysis and coaching apparatus may be changing that and the success Robbie Ray and Steven Matz had parlaying a year with the Blue Jays into big money doesn’t go unnoticed. Duffy’s health is a bit of a question mark, as his season ended prematurely with a forearm issue — and he had a left flexor strain earlier in the year — but he had excellent results when on the mound with a 2.51 ERA and 3.40 FIP in 61 innings. While his xERA of 4.24 suggests he got a bit lucky, the southpaw is still a strong back-of-the-rotation option.


Doolitte is one of many relievers you could tack onto this plan, but he gets the nod because of his velocity and durability returning after a lost 2020, his fastball still having solid spin and vertical movement, and his high-leverage experience being a nice bonus. He posted a 4.54 ERA and 4.38 ERA in 2021, and is likely to produce at a similar level as a floor-raising seventh or eighth reliever in 2022. As a budget reliever he doesn’t have a contract projection, so under this plan he gets a bump on the $1.5 million he accepted heading into 2021 coming off a brutal 2020 where he was injured and ineffective.

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Plan B: Focus on the Rotation

The transactions:

Blue Jays trade 2B/SS Otto Lopez, RHP CJ Van Eyk, and LHP Zach Logue for LHP Sean Manaea

Blue Jays sign 3B Kyle Seager to a two-year, $25-million deal


Blue Jays sign RHP Cam Bedrosian to a one-year $2-million deal

What it costs: $24.7 million in 2022 plus Seager’s salary in 2023

How it works: The addition of Manaea would give the Blue Jays a stellar rotation, and the acquisition cost wouldn’t be as daunting as with Chapman because he’s only under team control through 2022. Lopez’s inclusion in this deal is similar to Smith’s in the Chapman deal, but he’s younger and has more upside. His versatility, contact ability, and proximity to the majors would make him appealing to the A’s.

Van Eyk is coming off a middling first year as a pro, but he’s a former second-round pick with the repertoire diversity to start at the highest level. Logue rounds out the package as a depth arm knocking on the door of the major leagues.

(Kyle) Seager isn’t a name that’s going to sell any tickets, but the 34-year-old is as reliable as they come. He’s exceedingly durable, a good bet to produce approximately league-average production at the plate, and still a strong defender at the hot corner. Add in the fact he’s a left-handed bat and there’s no long-term commitment necessary to land him, and he makes a tonne of sense as the Blue Jays’ next starting third baseman. If he can replicate the ability to cut strikeouts he demonstrated in 2020, there’s even a sliver of upside considering his 30-plus home run power.


Like Doolittle, Bedrosian is something of a throw-in here, and you can really pick whichever budget reliever is your flavour. The 30-year-old gets the nod because, during 2021, he added an intriguing splitter to his repertoire that induced a 33.3 per cent whiff rate and didn’t result in a single extra-base hit despite the fact he threw it 25 per cent of the time. It was a rough season overall, which is why he could be available for a modest price, but that offering has new promise and could improve his prospects in 2022 if it continues to develop.

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Plan C: Focus on the bullpen

The transactions:

Blue Jays sign RHP Kenley Jansen to a two-year, $27-million deal

Blue Jays trade 2B/SS Leo Jimenez and RHP Sem Robberse for SS Adalberto Mondesí

Blue Jays sign RHP Michael Pineda to a one-year, $7.5-million contract

What it costs: $24.5 million in 2022 plus Mondesí’s arbitration salary in 2023

How it works: Giving significant multi-year contracts to big-name relievers doesn’t appear to be this front office’s MO, but bullpen meltdowns were the single biggest reason the Blue Jays fell short of the playoffs in 2021. The combination of Jansen — who’s coming off his best season since 2017 despite control issues plaguing him in the first half — and Jordan Romano would be dynamic late in games, and allow the rest of the relievers to filter into more comfortable roles.


The 34-year-old doesn’t throw especially hard, but doesn’t need to, thanks to a cutter that allows him to induce soft contact like no other pitcher in the game. Since 2017 his average exit velocity has been 99th or 100th percentile four times. The one time he didn’t reach those lofty heights, it was 96th percentile.

While Jansen is very much a known quantity — if an expensive one — Mondesí is a roll of the dice. Thanks to a combination of injuries and the Kansas City Royals’ tendency to shuttle him between the minors and the majors early in his career, the 26-year-old has only topped 100 MLB games once. He’s also coming off a year where he played just 35 games, and his career OBP is a measly .283.

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That’s a lot of negatives for a player to target in a trade, but Mondesí has a lot going for him. He’s a truly outstanding athlete and defender who would be spectacular at either second or third. He also has a Teoscar Hernandez-like combination of power and speed. In 2021, he posted max exit velocity and Sprint Speed numbers 85th percentile or better.

His speed isn’t just a theoretical asset either, as he ranks fourth in the majors in steals since 2018 despite playing at least 187 fewer games than each of the players above him.


The power has been harder to tap into for Mondesí, but his .185 ISO over the past four years is solid, and there’s clearly more there. He would be a high-variance option for a Blue Jays team that arguably needs certainty, but the ceiling is tantalizing — and the emergence of Nicky Lopez, plus the rise of the Detroit Tigers, has put the Kansas City Royals in a position to deal him. For all his flaws, Mondesí’s career WAR/600 PA is 2.9.

Even in a worst-case scenario where he slumps offensively enough to be unplayable as a starter, he’d be arguably the best defensive replacement/pinch runner in the game. According to this plan, the Blue Jays send good-contact, no-power infielder Jimenez the other way as a relatively high-floor prospect for the Royals, and Dutch pitcher Robberse as a more of a high-range-of-outcomes wild card.

Pineda fills out this path as a back-end starter who’s as unexciting as humanly possible, but he has a 3.80 ERA (and 3.93 FIP) in 282 innings since 2019. His price falls from the deal he signed prior to 2021 ($10 million) because he’s a year older and his velocity fell off this season while his contact management numbers faltered, even if the results (3.62 ERA and 4.21) were solid.

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Raptors Have Made 1 Player ‘Untouchable’ In Trade Talks



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The Toronto Raptors are apparently part of the negotiations around Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers.

They have emerged as possible suitors to land the highly-coveted guard.


But apparently, they’re not willing to put all of their assets and players on the table to get him.

According to Kurt Helin, Scottie Barnes is “untouchable” in trade talks.

“Been told by multiple people it’s not that he was taken off the table, he was never in the same room as the table,” Helin said, according to NBACentral.

Does their refusal to move Barnes mean that the Raptors are out of the running to get Lillard?

Not exactly.

The Raptors have a deep roster and multiple players who could be traded over to the Blazers.

But, as we have seen, if the Blazers don’t get exactly who they want, they will just sit on Lillard and not negotiate.

There are multiple other players in Toronto who could be part of a package sent to Portland, including Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby, and rookie Gradey Dick.


In fact, ESPN is reporting that the Blazers are “intrigued” by Dick, a 6-foot-7 sharpshooter.

However, Barnes is definitely one of the most attractive players in the Raptors’ lineup.

During his first two years in the league, the former Rookie of the Year has averaged 15.3 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 4.2 assists with a 47.3% field goal percentage.

With Fred VanVleet now gone from the team, many people see him as the future of the franchise.

Therefore, it’s not surprising to hear the Raptors want to keep him safe and sound in Toronto.


Will Portland keep negotiating with the Raptors now that Barnes is protected?

We have just a few more days to find out.

The post Raptors Have Made 1 Player ‘Untouchable’ In Trade Talks appeared first on The Cold Wire.

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Former Lottery Pick Calls Out The NBA For Being A Business



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The NBA is regarded as the best basketball league in the world.

Talent from all around the globe can flaunt their skills in the NBA and earn immense money as well as fame.


But even after making it to the NBA, the journey is not over, if anything, it only begins for most.

Either way, being in the NBA is not for every player because, deep down, the league is a business.

Former lottery pick Jabari Parker recently called out the NBA for being a business, via NBACentral on Twitter.

“Sadly, the NBA is a business, and there are 10-12 teams that try to win every game, and the other half try to get a draft pick,” Parker said.

Parker played in the NBA for eight years before leaving the league to play for Barcelona in Spain.

Parker was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, but unfortunately, he could never be a legitimate superstar in the league.

As for his call-out, Parker claimed that most teams are tanking for a top draft pick during the regular season.

On the other hand, he believes there are only about 12 teams that are trying to win every game of the season.


Thus, it leaves a very small market for most players to play in the league.

Parker gave examples of how players like DeMarcus Cousins, Dwight Howard, and John Wall are out of the league despite being superstars in the league at one point in their respective careers.

Parker concluded by calling the NBA “watered down,” and it led to him leaving it for Spain.

The former No. 2 overall draft pick averaged 14.1 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 2.0 assists over 310 games during his NBA career.

The post Former Lottery Pick Calls Out The NBA For Being A Business appeared first on The Cold Wire.


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Reporter Notes 1 Way Trail Blazers Could Have Made Damian Lillard Happy



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The Portland Trail Blazers were one of the worst teams in the 2022-23 NBA season, as they finished as the 13th seed in the Western Conference.

On a positive note, it helped them land the No. 3 overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, which they used to draft Scoot Henderson.


However, the Trail Blazers could have picked Victor Wembanyama if they had been awarded the No. 1 overall pick in the draft.

Wembanyama is touted to become the face of the NBA in the future, and another benefit for the Trail Blazers would have been that Damian Lillard was reportedly “cool” with playing alongside Wemby, via NBACentral on Twitter.

“First of all, if they got the number one pick Dame would be good. He would have been cool playing with Wemby,” Sean Highkin said.

Lillard requested a trade from the Trail Blazers earlier this offseason after 11 years of loyal service to the franchise.

But Dame would have apparently considered staying with the Trail Blazers had they drafted Wembanyama.

While the rookie may take a couple of years to reach his potential, he’s almost NBA-ready from day one.

On the other hand, Henderson also flaunts a lot of potential, but not many believe that he’ll become better than Wembanyama in the long run.

Unfortunately, the Trail Blazers didn’t land the No.1 overall pick in the draft, and Lillard is expected to be traded soon.


The 33-year-old superstar has named the Miami Heat as his preferred destination, but there’s no guarantee that the request will be fulfilled.

After all, the Trail Blazers will accept the best trade offer available to them, regardless of which team offers it.

The post Reporter Notes 1 Way Trail Blazers Could Have Made Damian Lillard Happy appeared first on The Cold Wire.

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