Transactions: Breyvic Valera and Travis Bergen are back with the Blue Jays

We’ve got some transaction news as two familiar-ish faces are back in the mix.

First, as you would have noticed if you watched Sunday’s game against the Yankees, infielder Breyvic Valera is back with the Blue Jays after being reinstated from the Restricted List. Valera was unable to join the team last season as he wasn’t able to get out of Venezuela due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Valera is a really random name you might have completely forgotten about until today. He was claimed by the Blue Jays from the Yankees back in September of 2019, a dark period of time many of us have wiped from our memories, and he got into five games with the team that season.
His numbers in Triple-A that season (between the Giants and Yankees minor-league affiliates) were actually quite good. Valera slashed a .303/.389/.480 line over 107 games with a 50-to-44 walk-to-strikeout ratio. Of course, he’s also 29 years old with no success at the big-league level.
Anyway, Valera is apparently in the mix for a backup infield gig with Santiago Espinal and Joe Panik, who’s in Florida as a non-roster invitee. I figure Valera is a pretty likely candidate to be …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Grapefruit Notes: The Blue Jays are undefeated in 2021

Baseball! It’s back!

Hopefully you were able to catch the fever of YOUR Toronto Blue Jays on this lovely Sunday afternoon because they won’t be on television again for two weeks.
Baseball! It’s sort of back!
Things worth mentioning…

The Toronto Blue Jays are undefeated in 2021, while the New York Yankees remain winless. Does this make the Blue Jays World Series favourites? I mean, you certainly have to ask the question.
Anthony Kay got the start for the Blue Jays and looked very good. Remember, when it comes to Spring Training, when a guy is doing well, it means that they’re going to have a breakout season, but when they’re doing poorly, it doesn’t mean anything. Those are the rules. Anyway, Kay was excellent over two innings of work, but, unfortunately Charlie Montoyo didn’t allow him to go the distance to pitch a perfect game. The interesting thing with Kay on Sunday afternoon was the extra zip on his pitches. He was hitting as high as 97 miles-per-hour, which is well above the 96.3 mph fastball he averaged last year. All aboard the Anthony Kay for Cy Young train!

2 perfect innings for @TonyBuckets18?
What a …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Meet The Baby Blue Jays: Rikelvin De Castro is a smooth-fielding shortstop with a high baseball IQ

Welcome to Meet The Baby Blue Jays, a series in which I’ll profile a handful of lesser-known young prospects in the Blue Jays’ system.  

The Toronto Blue Jays put pen to paper with international prospect Rikelvin De Castro in July of 2019, and are hoping his high baseball IQ and exceptional glovework can translate to big-league success.
Bio

De Castro’s fielding ability is his greatest strength, and when you watch him pick it, it’s hard to disagree. His footwork, arm strength, and ability to quickly transfer the ball from his glove into a ready throwing position make him an intriguing middle infield prospect. Watch here as De Castro smoothly fields these ground balls and shows an ability to throw on the run seamlessly.


De Castro is a contact first hitter who stays extremely loose in the box. His swing is quick, effortless, and he possesses legitimate gap power, which allows him to leg out extra-base hits, despite not being the fastest runner.

As can be seen in the video above, his weight transfer is smooth, his hips are activated nicely, and he …

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Author: David Quadrelli / Blue Jays Nation

Why Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Should be Given an Opportunity to Play Third

Charlie Montoyo spoke to the media on Wednesday and announced that Cavan Biggio, not Vladimir Guerrero Jr., will be the team’s third baseman this season.

This news isn’t shocking but seems a bit surprising they would announce this at the beginning of Spring Training, given all the work/training Vlad did to get into shape in order to play third base. Based off the Team Guerrero YouTube channel, it looks like Vlad has put a ton of work this off-season into his defence at third, including earlier this month working with Luis Rivera.
It feels like a wasted opportunity for Vlad to spend all this time training to play third, only to be told immediately in Spring Training that he is going to play first. First is not an easy position to pick-up, and Vlad had his struggles there last season. If you want him to become a gold glove first baseman, spending a whole off-season working on the position would have been a great start. Vlad even played Winter Ball in the Dominican Republic to get game reps at third; looking back he probably should have used that time to get better accustomed to first.
Maybe third …

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Author: Paul Berthelot / Blue Jays Nation

It turns out Sportsnet will produce three Blue Jays spring training games for television and radio

Blue Jays Grapefruit action at TD Ballpark in Dunedin won’t be blacked out completely, it turns out.

According to a press release from the Blue Jays, Sportsnet will be airing “a minimum of 10 games” this spring. We already knew that Sportsnet would be airing a handful of away games produced by other teams and networks, but this release states that Sportsnet will be producing three games of their own with the Blue Jays’ broadcast crew.
Here’s Sportsnet’s full broadcast schedule for spring, with the in-house produced home games bolded…

Sunday, Feb. 28 at 1 p.m. ET / 10 a.m. PT – Toronto @ NY Yankees (Watch on Sportsnet)
Friday, Mar. 12 at 1 p.m. ET / 10 a.m. PT – Toronto @ Pittsburgh – (Watch on Sportsnet)
Monday, Mar. 15 at 1 p.m. ET / 10 a.m. PT – Toronto @ Detroit – (Watch on Sportsnet)
Saturday, Mar. 20 at 1 p.m. ET / 10 a.m. PT – Toronto @ Philadelphia – (Watch on Sportsnet)
Sunday, Mar. 21 at 1 p.m. ET / 10 a.m. PT – NY Yankees @ Toronto (Watch on Sportsnet; Listen on Sportsnet Radio Network)
Monday, Mar. 22 at 6:30 p.m. ET / 3:30 p.m. PT – Detroit @ Toronto (Watch on Sportsnet; Listen on Sportsnet Radio Network)
Wednesday, Mar. 24 at 1 p.m. ET / 10 a.m. PT – Toronto @ NY Yankees – ( …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

The Blue Jays brought up the idea of a contract extension with Bo Bichette, but no offer has been made

Welcome to the era of pre-arbitration, long-term contracts.

Over the past few years, we’ve seen more and more teams opting to hand out guaranteed dollars to players with short track records in order to save money on free agency years down the road.
The big example this off-season, of course, is Fernando Tatis Jr., who signed a massive 14-year contract with the San Diego Padres worth $340 million. Tatis has only played 143 games at the major-league level but, based on his trajectory as a player and the steady rise of free-agent salaries, the Padres are more than likely going to have a bargain deal in a few years.
The Blue Jays have two young franchise cornerstones, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette, who could end up with a mega extension sooner rather than later. Bichette said on Monday that the organization discussed a contract extension with him this off-season, but no actual offer was made.
“I’m happy for Fernando,” Bichette said. “I’ve always admired the way he plays from the minor-leagues until now. He’s an exciting player. I think it’s really powerful that an organization believed in him enough to put the commitment they did. Obviously …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Ryan Noda is the other Player To Be Named Later in the Ross Stripling trade

The most drawn out trade in Blue Jays history has finally been completed.

Back at the end of August, the Blue Jays acquired Ross Stripling from the L.A. Dodgers in exchange for two Player(s) To Be Named Later.
One of them, as we found out shortly after, was pitcher Kendall Williams, the Blue Jays’ second-round pick from the 2019 draft. The other one, as we learned today, was Ryan Noda.

#BlueJays announce that OF Ryan Noda has been sent to the Dodgers as the second PTBNL in the Ross Ross Stripling deal.
— Keegan Matheson (@KeeganMatheson) February 24, 2021

Noda, a corner outfielder and first baseman was the 15th round pick of the Blue Jays from the 2017 draft. He isn’t currently ranked on Toronto’s Top-30 prospects list and went unclaimed in the last Rule 5 Draft.
In his first professional season, Noda slashed a .364/.507/.575 line in Rookie Ball in Bluefield and he then followed that up with an impressive .256/.421/.484 line in Low-A Lansing. Most recently, Noda put together a .238/.372/.418 line in High-A Dunedin and didn’t join the Blue Jays at their Alternate Training Site in Rochester in the summer of 2020.
As I said, Noda has never really been a big-time …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Daily Duce: Sportsnet isn’t planning to produce Grapefruit games for TV, Alek Manoah talks Alternate Training Site, and more!

Daily!???!?!!?

We’re only a few days away from the first Blue Jays game of 2021.
On Sunday, the team will head to George Steinbrenner Field in Tampa to play the Yankees, a game that will be televised on Sportsnet. But don’t get used to these Grapefruit Games reaching your screen.
According to a post from Rob Longley in the Toronto Sun, the Blue Jays are banning fans and media from their training complex on the other side of Dunedin and Sportsnet isn’t planning to produce television broadcasts of Grapefruit games.
The Jays are one of a handful of teams that are banning fans and media from all activity at the club’s training complex 6 km across town from TD Ballpark. While the restrictions are allowed under MLB spring training regulations, it will certainly leave a void in the usual flow of information and allow the Jays to control exactly what details become available to their  loyal fan base.
Once games begin, the exposure will increase with limited numbers of fans and media allowed in the stadiums, but even then fans will be left largely in the dark. Broadcast rights holder and fellow Rogers family member Sportsnet has no …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

The Joel Payamps era has come to an end (and a 40-man roster spot has opened)

Apparently Joel Payamps was on waivers.

The Blue Jays announced on Monday that Payamps, the pitcher the team had claimed off of waivers a couple of weeks ago, has been claimed by the Boston Red Sox.

ROSTER MOVE: RHP Joel Payamps has been claimed off waivers by the Red Sox. pic.twitter.com/YRIyKHIZba
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) February 22, 2021

Payamps was claimed by Boston from Arizona in November, claimed by the Blue Jays in early-February, and now he’s back with the Red Sox. He’s one hell of a jet-setter for these times.
The interesting part of this transaction is that the Blue Jays now have an open spot on their 40-man roster. Could that mean something imminent, like a a Jake Odorizzi signing? Or is this just for something down the road, like inevitably adding a veteran like Francisco Liriano or Joe Panik to the roster?
We haven’t seen much smoke around the Blue Jays and Odorizzi lately, and Ross Atkins’ media availability on Friday didn’t make it appear as though the team would be adding another free-agent before the start of the season.
I wouldn’t expect anything major, but I would love to be …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Daily Duce: Taijuan Walker signs with the Mets, Charlie Montoyo talks about pitchers and positional versatility, and more!

Daily?!?!?!

It’s Transaction Friday, but not for the Blue Jays, unfortunately. The New York Mets have reached a deal with Taijuan Walker…

#mets in agreement with Taijuan Walkerat 2 years, $20M. There is a player option for a third year, pending physical
— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) February 19, 2021

The deal will apparently pay Walker $20 million over two seasons and it has an option for a third year. According to Ben Nicholson-Smith, the Blue Jays had interest in Walker and he also had interest in sticking around, but the team didn’t get in the mix as the Mets upped the ante over the past week.
Given the dollars and the term, it isn’t all that shocking that the Blue Jays didn’t end up signing Walker. We knew that the team wasn’t going to be handing out another big contract and that they were avoiding commitments that went beyond this season so that they can maintain the most possible flexibility come next off-season.
If they were able to move a contract like Tanner Roark or Randal Grichuk, bringing back Walker, even on a two-year deal, would have made sense, but that didn’t happen, so here we are. The last …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation