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What to expect from Blue Jays, rumour mill at MLB GM Meetings

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CARLSBAD, Calif. – If you didn’t know any better, baseball’s GM Meetings could be mistaken for any North American business conference.

A lot of khakis, a lot of quarter zips and a slate of meetings to discuss the finer points of an industry – whether that happens to be dentistry, software development or Major League Baseball.

Granted, you’re less likely to find dozens of media members lurking in the lobby of a dentists’ convention. But at their core, the MLB GM Meetings are an administrative event. This is where executives discuss potential tweaks to the replay system, offer feedback on MLB’s recent efforts to prevent illegal sign stealing and compare notes on health and safety procedures.

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Once they’re done with that? Then it’s finally time to talk trades and start exploring deals with what looks like a tremendous class of free agents. And as of Sunday evening, MLB’s quiet period is over, meaning all those free agents are now able to sign with any team.

All day Monday, baseball executives from around the country will be arriving at the site of this year’s meetings, the Omni La Costa Resort and Spa in Carlsbad, Calif. As they prepare for the first full week of the off-season, we’ll look more closely at what goes on behind the scenes at the GM Meetings and what to expect from the Blue Jays.

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Who attends the GM Meetings?

After going virtual in 2020, the MLB GM Meetings are back to being an in-person event. And there’s a chance this is the only major off-season event that takes place this year with many expecting the Winter Meetings to be cancelled if there’s no new collective bargaining agreement when the current one expires Dec. 1.

For now, at least, it’s business as usual. That means each team sends a small handful of executives – typically a GM, an assistant GM or two and a couple more high-ranking executives (some but not all team presidents attend).

That’s on the team side. The league itself sends executives to run the scheduled meetings and be sure the 30 clubs get the information they need.

Along with all those team and league officials, many agents attend, too – though some consider it unnecessary depending on which free agents they represent that year. This year’s agent meetings are set to begin in Carlsbad on Thursday, meaning many agents will show up a day or two early to allow for some in-person meetings with teams.

Lastly, there’s a media contingent covering the event. It adds up to a few hundred people, but compared to the chaos of the Winter Meetings it’s far smaller in scale, allowing GMs to conduct business with relatively few interruptions from autograph collectors or job seekers.

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Ben Nicholson-Smith is Sportsnet’s baseball editor. Arden Zwelling is a senior writer. Together, they bring you the most in-depth Blue Jays podcast in the league, covering off all the latest news with opinion and analysis, as well as interviews with other insiders and team members.

What actually happens in these free agent meetings?

When teams and agents meet this time of year, a sort of dance unfolds. There are initial expressions of interest and promises to keep in touch, but firm offers are less common. Get ready to hear the phrase ‘laying the groundwork’ a lot this week.

For instance, let’s go back to 2019, the last time baseball held traditional GM Meetings. That week, a Blue Jays contingent including manager Charlie Montoyo met in person with catcher Yasmani Grandal, who was then a free agent. There was enough mutual interest for a meeting, but that ‘groundwork’ never led anywhere concrete.

That year, the Blue Jays were also intent on adding pitching so they also held internal discussions about the likes of Jordan Lyles, Julio Teheran, Dallas Keuchel and Wade Miley. In some cases – Kyle Gibson and Jake Odorizzi, for example – talks got more serious. And while we didn’t know it at the time, the preliminary discussions the Blue Jays held regarding Tanner Roark and Hyun-Jin Ryu at those 2019 GM meetings would eventually lead to deals.

Of course not all of it is so structured. Now that the GM Meetings are once again an in-person event there’s the chance for unplanned run-ins between baseball people in lobbies, coffee lineups and outside elevators. Sometimes those little interactions can lead to much bigger deals.

What should we expect from the Blue Jays this year?

If the right deal emerges, the Blue Jays will strike, as they did with a one-year, $8 million deal for Robbie Ray this time last year. More likely, though? Meetings that provide the Blue Jays with useful information about the market and set up deals later in the winter.

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That won’t stop the rumours from flowing, as agents sometimes like to link their clients to the Blue Jays now that they’re spending quite aggressively. There will be truth to many of those rumours, as the Blue Jays are nothing if not thorough. Especially in a year where they have clear needs for a bat and multiple pitchers, they’ll check on the vast majority of free agents, including the best of the best.

But it’s also worth understanding how these rumours emerge. For instance, agencies will often present information on numerous free agents at once instead of creating separate meetings for each player. That means when the Blue Jays meet with Scott Boras about Marcus Semien, other Boras clients like Corey Seager, Max Scherzer and Kris Bryant are likely to come up in conversation.

So, brace yourself for headlines along the lines of ‘Blue Jays interested in Max Scherzer.’ They’ll technically be true. The Blue Jays will certainly engage on top free agents once again, and what big-market team wouldn’t have interest in Scherzer? But it’s one thing to discuss a player at the GM Meetings and it’s another thing to find mutual interest and develop real traction on a deal.

This week, it’s all about getting those conversations started.





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How to watch Appalachian State vs. James Madison: NCAA Football live stream info, TV channel, time, game odds

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Who’s Playing

James Madison @ Appalachian State

Current Records: James Madison 2-0; Appalachian State 2-1

What to Know

The James Madison Dukes watched the action from their couches last weekend, but are set to take to the field. James Madison and the Appalachian State Mountaineers will face off in a Sun Belt battle at 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday at Kidd Brewer Stadium. The odds don’t look promising for the Dukes, but the bigger the opponent is, the harder they fall.

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A well-balanced attack led James Madison over the Norfolk State Spartans every single quarter on their way to victory two weeks ago. James Madison claimed a resounding 63-7 win over Norfolk State at home. The game was pretty much decided by the half, when the score had already reached 35 to nothing.

Meanwhile, Appalachian State didn’t have too much breathing room in their contest with the Troy Trojans last week, but they still walked away with a 32-28 victory. Appalachian State QB Chase Brice was slinging it as he passed for two TDs and 279 yards on 34 attempts. Near the top of the highlight reel was Brice’s 53-yard TD bomb to WR Christan Horn in the fourth quarter.

Their wins bumped the Dukes to 2-0 and the Mountaineers to 2-1. Watch the matchup and check back on CBS Sports to find out who keeps up the positive energy and who hits a stumbling block.

How To Watch

  • When: Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET
  • Where: Kidd Brewer Stadium — Boone, North Carolina
  • TV: ESPN Plus
  • Online streaming: fuboTV (Try for free. Regional restrictions may apply.)
  • Follow: CBS Sports App
  • Ticket Cost: $40.99

Odds

The Mountaineers are a solid 6.5-point favorite against the Dukes, according to the latest college football odds.

The oddsmakers had a good feel for the line for this one, as the game opened with the Mountaineers as a 7.5-point favorite.

Over/Under: -111

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See college football picks for every single game, including this one, from SportsLine’s advanced computer model. Get picks now.

Series History

This is the first time these teams have played each other within the last seven years.



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UTSA vs. Texas Southern: How to watch NCAA Football online, TV channel, live stream info, game time

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Who’s Playing

Texas Southern @ UTSA

Current Records: Texas Southern 1-2; UTSA 1-2

What to Know

The Texas Southern Tigers will take on the UTSA Roadrunners at 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday at Alamodome. Texas Southern isn’t favored, but they just beat the odds in their last game, so don’t count them out.

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The Tigers kept a clean sheet against the Southern University Jaguars last week and took the matchup 24 to nothing. The squad ran away with 21 points in the first half and mostly just sat on those in the second to pick up the victory.

Meanwhile, it was all tied up 17-17 at halftime, but UTSA was not quite the Texas Longhorns’ equal in the second half when they met last week. The Roadrunners suffered a grim 41-20 defeat to the Longhorns. This contest was a close 17-17 at the break, but unfortunately for UTSA it sure didn’t stay that way. A silver lining for them was the play of RB Brenden Brady, who threw one touchdown in addition to punching in one rushing touchdown.

Texas Southern’s win lifted them to 1-2 while UTSA’s loss dropped them down to 1-2. We’ll find out if the Tigers can add another positive mark to their record or if UTSA can shake off the defeat and take the spring out of Texas Southern’s step.

How To Watch

  • When: Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET
  • Where: Alamodome — San Antonio, Texas
  • TV: STADIUM
  • Follow: CBS Sports App
  • Ticket Cost: $69.00

Odds

The Roadrunners are a big 42-point favorite against the Tigers, according to the latest college football odds.

Bettors have moved against the Roadrunners slightly, as the game opened with the Roadrunners as a 44-point favorite.

Over/Under: -110

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See college football picks for every single game, including this one, from SportsLine’s advanced computer model. Get picks now.

Series History

This is the first time these teams have played each other within the last seven years.



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North Carolina vs. Notre Dame live stream info, TV channel: How to watch NCAA Football on TV, stream online

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Who’s Playing

Notre Dame @ North Carolina

Current Records: Notre Dame 1-2; North Carolina 3-0

What to Know

The North Carolina Tar Heels will be returning home after a two-game road trip. They will take on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday at Kenan Memorial Stadium after a week off. UNC is expected to win — but not by much — so they will need to come into the game prepared for a fight.

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The Tar Heels beat the Georgia State Panthers 35-28 two weeks ago. Among those leading the charge for UNC was RB Omarion Hampton, who rushed for two TDs and 110 yards on 16 carries. Hampton put himself on the highlight reel with a 58-yard TD scramble in the third quarter.

Meanwhile, Notre Dame netted a 24-17 victory over the California Golden Bears last week. RB Audric Estime and RB Chris Tyree were among the main playmakers for Notre Dame as the former punched in one rushing touchdown and the latter snatched one receiving TD.

Notre Dame’s defense was a presence as well, as it embarrassed California’s offensive line to sack QB Jack Plummer six times for a total loss of 47 yards. It was a group effort with four guys contributing.

The wins brought the Tar Heels up to 3-0 and the Fighting Irish to 1-2. A pair of stats to keep an eye on: UNC enters the matchup with 310 passing yards per game on average, good for 21st best in the nation. But Notre Dame comes into the contest boasting the 34th fewest passing yards allowed per game in the nation at 184. These opposing strengths should make for an exciting matchup.

How To Watch

  • When: Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET
  • Where: Kenan Memorial Stadium — Chapel Hill, North Carolina
  • TV: ABC
  • Online streaming: fuboTV (Try for free. Regional restrictions may apply.)
  • Follow: CBS Sports App
  • Ticket Cost: $110.00

Odds

The Tar Heels are a slight 2.5-point favorite against the Fighting Irish, according to the latest college football odds.

The line on this game has moved quite a bit since it opened, as it started out with the Fighting Irish as a 1.5-point favorite.

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Over/Under: -110

See college football picks for every single game, including this one, from SportsLine’s advanced computer model. Get picks now.

Series History

Notre Dame have won all of the games they’ve played against North Carolina in the last eight years.

  • Oct 30, 2021 – Notre Dame 44 vs. North Carolina 34
  • Nov 27, 2020 – Notre Dame 31 vs. North Carolina 17
  • Oct 07, 2017 – Notre Dame 33 vs. North Carolina 10



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