The Blue Jays are expected to sign one of the top international free agents from next year’s class

Despite the fact that the 2022 international free agent period is still open, it’s never too early to speak about potential 2023 International Free Agents that the Jays are connected to.

While the team’s big-league outfield is solidified with Geroge Springer, Teoscar Hernandez and a mix of Loudres Gurriel Jr and Randal Grichuk, there aren’t a ton of high ceiling prospects in the pipeline. Looking at MLB’s Pipeline, the first natural outfielder in the Jays’ top 30 is Dasan Brown, who is ranked 19th.
However, on the morning of January 27th, it was announced by Joe Doyle of Prospects Live that the Toronto Blue Jays are in a handshake deal with corner outfielder Emmanuel Bonilla. The 15-year-old from the Dominican Republic is already a whooping 6’3, 205 pounds. He’ll be turning 16 in February, meaning that by February 2023, the young outfielder will be able to officially sign with the Jays. He is estimated to sign with a bonus of 4 million, slightly more than what Vladimir Guerrero Jr signed for in 2015 (3.9 million).

There is quite clearly a “Big 4” in the 2022-2023 international free agent class. The Mariners, Padres, Yankees and Blue Jays are positioned to land one each.
Hear what international scouting directors have to say about the impressive next wave. https://t.co/NcgsetEy81
— Joe Doyle (@JoeDoyleMiLB) January 27, 2022

Bonilla is your prototype corner outfielder wit …

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Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation

Sizing up the American League East: New York Yankees

Next up in the series of “meeting the AL East teams” are the disgusting New York Yankees. They have a lot of big names but don’t let that fool you, this team is the fourth-best team in the division. 

Infielders:
Gary Sanchez (Catcher)
Kyle Higashioka (Catcher)
Luke Voit (First Baseman)
Gleyber Torres (Second Baseman)
Gio Ursehla (Shortstop)
DJ LeMahieu (Third Base)
Miguel Andujar (Utility)
Gary Sanchez can hit bombs and has a great arm, but that’s about it. He strikes out 27.5% of the time and is barely above the Mendoza Line at .204. This would be fine, if he was good defensively. He is not. Sanchez had his worst defensive season yet as he finished with a -10 DRS.
Higashioka is even worse with the bat, but actually provides value defensively as he finished with a DRS of 5. He’s Gerrit Cole’s personal catcher and always kills the Jays for some reason.
Luke Voit only played in 68 games in 2021 and he looked okay. He had a slash line of .239/.338/.764 and hit 11 home runs. That’s an alright pace in terms of home runs per game, but in 2020, he hit 22 in 56 games, by far his best offensive season. His K% also increased drastically in 2021, going up from 23.1% to 30.7%. It really depends what version the Yankees get.
Do you remember when Gleyber Torres was a top rated prospect? It’s a cautionary tale about how prospects may not always pan out. While there is no question that Torres is an MLB player, the …

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Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation

If Blue Jays trade Alejandro Kirk, targeting experienced catcher may prove beneficial

Amid another crucial off-season, the Toronto Blue Jays remain extremely deep at the catcher position and whenever this current lockout concludes, the front office could utilize some of that capital to address other glaring needs.
As currently constructed, four catchers (Danny Jansen, Reese McGuire, Alejandro Kirk, Gabriel Moreno) are featured on the Blue Jays’ 40-man roster. Since Moreno is projected to be a future star, it’ll be very important to make sure he’s provided with a clear path to the majors.
But as of now, that doesn’t quite exist inside this organization. In an effort to prevent any logjam from being created, management will likely need to subtract at least one – if not more – of Jansen, McGuire or Kirk in the near future.
Before the transaction freeze commenced, there was plenty of speculation about Toronto utilizing Kirk as a trade chip to acquire either starting pitching or an all-star infielder. Initially, it was believed that the Miami Marlins could serve as a solid trading partner, however, they ended up landing Jacob Stallings from the Pittsburgh Pirates – putting an end to any possible trade discussions.
While the Marlins are no longer in the market for a catcher, there are still a handful of teams that could meet that descri …

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Author: Thomas Hall / Blue Jays Nation

If Blue Jays trade Alejandro Kirk, targeting experinced catcher may prove beneficial

Amid another crucial off-season, the Toronto Blue Jays remain extremely deep at the catcher position and whenever this current lockout concludes, the front office could utilize some of that capital to address other glaring needs.
As currently constructed, four catchers (Danny Jansen, Reese McGuire, Alejandro Kirk, Gabriel Moreno) are featured on the Blue Jays’ 40-man roster. Since Moreno is projected to be a future star, it’ll be very important to make sure he’s provided with a clear path to the majors.
But as of now, that doesn’t quite exist inside this organization. In an effort to prevent any logjam from being created, management will likely need to subtract at least one – if not more – of Jansen, McGuire or Kirk in the near future.
Before the transaction freeze commenced, there was plenty of speculation about Toronto utilizing Kirk as a trade chip to acquire either starting pitching or an all-star infielder. Initially, it was believed that the Miami Marlins could serve as a solid trading partner, however, they ended up landing Jacob Stallings from the Pittsburgh Pirates – putting an end to any possible trade discussions.
While the Marlins are no longer in the market for a catcher, there are still a handful of teams that could meet that descri …

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Author: Thomas Hall / Blue Jays Nation

Sizing up the American League East: The Boston Red Sox

This is the second article in the series “meeting the AL East teams.”
This article will be focused on the Boston Red Sox. Unlike the lowly Baltimore Orioles, the Red Sox are a solid team looking to build off a performance that saw them reach the ALCS in 2021. Let’s take a look at the project position player lineup, according to FanGraphs.

Infielders:
Christian Vazquez (Catcher)
Kevin Plawecki (Catcher)
Bobby Dalbec (First Baseman)
Enrique Hernandez (Second Baseman)
Xander Bogaerts (Shortstop)
Rafael Devers (Third Baseman)
Christian Arroyo (Utility)
Triston Casas (First Baseman)
While Vazquez doesn’t produce great offense, he finished 2021 with a 5 DRS and is a career 40 DRS catcher. Unlike Baltimore, the Orioles actually have an MLB catcher. In contrast, Plawecki had a DRS of -3, however had a slightly above average wRC+ of 102. In the shortened 2020 season, that wRC was 134, which is very good, albeit in a small sample size.
Bobby Dalbec is a serviceable 1B with quite a few holes in his game. The 26-year-old had a slash line of .240/.298/.792 with 25 home runs. However, Bobby had an incredibly high K% of 34.4%, which was actually down from his 42.4% in 2020. He’s a right hander with pop, which is perfect for Fenway, but he could realistically be upgraded.
The Red Sox received quite a few players in return for Mookie Betts, one of these players being 30-year-old Enrique Hernandez. The second baseman had a good 2021 owning a slash line of .250/.337/.786. He chipped in 20 home runs as a second baseman an …

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Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation

Sizing up the American League East: The Baltimore Orioles

Last week, I wrote an article about which team in the AL East has the best starting rotation. In a series of five articles, we’ll cover each of the AL East team’s position players, starting with the Baltimore Orioles.

It’s also important to keep in mind that the free agency period isn’t finished yet. It is entirely possible that the Jays sign Kris Bryant or trade for Jose Ramirez once this dumb lockout is over, so this article may be revised if that is the case. Furthermore, all projected lineups in this series will be brought to you by Fangraphs’ depth chart.
The Bad Birds of the East are going to be bad once again. I’m starting with them because it gives a chance for my editor to use the Oriole trash can picture. Speaking of trash, let’s talk about the Oriole infield. Below is the projected infield for the 2022 Baltimore Orioles.
Jacob Nottingham (Catcher)
Anthony Bemboom (Catcher)
Ryan Mountcastler (First Baseman)
Trey Mancini (Backup First Baseman)
Rougned Odor (Second Baseman)
Ramon Urias (Shortstop)
Kelvin Guiterrez (Third Baseman)
Jorge Mateo (Utility)
Adley Rutschman (Catcher)
I hope Oriole fans are happy with another first overall pick! Nottingham has played only 53 games in the MLB and has hit below the Mendoza Line for his career. His defense is okay, but not more than average. Bemboom’s career is pretty much the same story. However, Rutschman will likely make his debut in 2022, we’ll get to him later.
Aside from Adley, Mountcastle is the only shining spot in the infield for the Orioles. He had a slash line of .255/.309/.796 with 33 home runs. This led to him finishing sixth in rookie of the year voting. If Mountcastle can build off his impressive second rookie season, he could be one of few bright spots for the team.
On a more serious note, it is nice to see Trey Mancini back in baseball. Sho …

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Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation

Gabe Moreno, Jordan Groshans, Orelvis Martinez, and Nate Pearson make Baseball Prospectus’ Top 101 Prospectus list

While the stupid lockout is still ongoing, it’s that time of year when prospect lovers like myself get to be angry about sites underrating our prospects. Let’s talk about Baseball Prospectus’ list and how they underrated Gabriel Moreno massively.

Here are the four Blue Jays prospects that rank in the Top 101…
Gabriel Moreno #22
Jordan Groshans #60
Orelvis Martinez #62
Nate Pearson #73
My immediate reaction is, “why the heck is Gabriel Moreno so low?”. Regardless of where the soon-to-be 22-year-old catcher played in the 2021 season, he had success. Before a hand injury, Moreno hit .280/.337/1.092 with 8 home runs in Double-A. Furthermore, the converted shortstop threw out 43.75% of runners in 32 stolen base attempts. He profiles as a good hitter with power with an excellent arm. 
He didn’t play much to end the minor league season, but he was key to Mesa winning the Arizona Fall League. In 100 plate appearances, Moreno slashed .329/.410/.904, had 11 doubles and 18 RBIs, and added a homer for good measure. Furthermore, Moreno had as many walks as strikeouts, as he had thirteen each. No one even attempted to run on him. 
His success continued in the Venezuelan Winter League as he slashed .297/.397/.758. While his slash line decreased, it is important to remember that he was -7.3 years younger than the average catcher. Even with the injury, he had an incredibly successful 2021 and he should be much higher than 22nd.
Mar 13, 2021; Dunedin, Florida, USA; Toronto …

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Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation

Gabe Moreno, Jordan Groshans, Orelvis Martinez, and Nate Pearson make Baseball Prospects’ Top 101 Prospects list

While the stupid lockout is still ongoing, it’s that time of year when prospect lovers like myself get to be angry about sites underrating our prospects. Let’s talk about Baseball Prospectus’ list and how they underrated Gabriel Moreno massively.

Here are the four Blue Jays prospects that rank in the Top 101…
Gabriel Moreno #22
Jordan Groshans #60
Orelvis Martinez #62
Nate Pearson #73
My immediate reaction is, “why the heck is Gabriel Moreno so low?”. Regardless of where the soon-to-be 22-year-old catcher played in the 2021 season, he had success. Before a hand injury, Moreno hit .280/.337/1.092 with 8 home runs in Double-A. Furthermore, the converted shortstop threw out 43.75% of runners in 32 stolen base attempts. He profiles as a good hitter with power with an excellent arm. 
He didn’t play much to end the minor league season, but he was key to Mesa winning the Arizona Fall League. In 100 plate appearances, Moreno slashed .329/.410/.904, had 11 doubles and 18 RBIs, and added a homer for good measure. Furthermore, Moreno had as many walks as strikeouts, as he had thirteen each. No one even attempted to run on him. 
His success continued in the Venezuelan Winter League as he slashed .297/.397/.758. While his slash line decreased, it is important to remember that he was -7.3 years younger than the average catcher. Even with the injury, he had an incredibly successful 2021 and he should be much higher than 22nd.
Mar 13, 2021; Dunedin, Florida, USA; Toronto …

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Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation

Major League Baseball has killed the Montreal-Tampa Expo Rays idea

The dream of Tampa and Montreal splitting the Rays is dead.

I mean, it was never really actually alive, because this was a preposterous plan functioning solely to pressure local governments into funding new stadium projects, but Major League Baseball has officially vetoed the idea.

BREAKING: #Rays season-sharing plan with Montreal killed by MLB, search back on for a full-time home https://t.co/pH2pAHBUf0
— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) January 20, 2022

The split-city idea, while fun in theory, never really made all too much sense in the real world. Would fans really be loyal to a team that was only there half of the time? How would the playoff work? Who would get those games? Would players want to play for a team in which they had to travel even more than anywhere else? There isn’t even a direct flight from Montreal to Tampa, so the logistics were simply a mess.
But, as I said earlier, this was always about two different parties seeking to get support to have state-of-the-art facilities built.
The Rays threatening to move the team away from the Tampa area for half of the season might help them get funding for a new stadium, ideally not in the middle of nowhere like The Trop. The same goes for Montreal’s group led by Stephen Bronfman, who’s been pushing to get funding for a stadium better than The Big O.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that baseball in Montreal is dead. There has been quite a bit of talk about MLB expanding to 32 teams and Montreal is one of the cities seemingly in the discussion. That being said, it won’t happen at Olympic Stadium, so the Bronfman group is going to have to find a way to get that new facility built in Peel Basin. …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Remembering Blue Jays Legend Francisco Liriano

After spending 14 seasons in the majors, pitcher Francisco Liriano officially announced his retirement from professional baseball Monday, putting a wrap on his lengthy career in Major League Baseball.

Francisco Liriano is retiring, agent Mike Maulini tells FanSided. https://t.co/6nIFDMtS71
— Robert Murray (@ByRobertMurray) January 17, 2022

While Liriano spent the majority of his playing days between the Minnesota Twins (2005-2012) and Pittsburgh Pirates (2013-2016), the 38-year-old joined the Toronto Blue Jays for a couple of partial seasons from 2016-2017 – including their post-season run in ’16.
Though he’s certainly not one of the more notable hurlers that have ever thrown for this organization, however, the left-hander still enjoyed some memorable highlights during his brief time pitching north of the border.
First and foremost, there was that glorious trade involving the Pirates that brought Liriano to the Blue Jays – along with prospects Reese McGuire and Harold Ramirez – in exchange for Drew Hutchison and financial relief. Granted, this club retained just over $8.5 million of the remaining $39 million that was left owing on his contract, although that proved to be worthwhile in the end.
Looking back, this transaction remains one of the best trades ever made under the Mark Shapiro/Ross Atkins era. With that in mind, it’s time to explore the most meaningful moments of Liriano’s tenure in blue and white.
Liriano Earns 2nd Career Win With Blue Jays 
Normally, a pitcher’s first win with a new franchise is usually the one most fans remember the most, but in Liriano’s case, his second victory with Toronto proved to be more satisfying than his first.
Making his ninth appearance since being acquired at the 2016 trade deadline …

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Author: Thomas Hall / Blue Jays Nation