Daily Duce: Minor league baseball’s mass exodus

The big news around baseball over the past week has been the exodus of minor league baseball players as hundreds of players around the league have been released.

According to Jeff Passan, most of the teams are releasing between 30 and 50 players. Ben Nicholson-Smith reported at Sportsnet that the Blue Jays will be cutting 29 players, but we don’t know who they are yet.
It’s standard practice for organizations to release some players from their systems ahead of the annual MLB draft in order to make room for the new players they’ll be adding. For example, organizational depth types like Brandon Grudzielanek and Gunnar Heidt got released last May as part of the sweep to make room for more players.
But, as Passan noted in a follow-up Tweet, it isn’t standard to see so many minor leaguers get released en masse like this. The reality this time is that there will surely be no minor league season this year so teams are chopping even more names than usual because there isn’t a need for organizational depth when there aren’t Triple-A and Double-A rosters to fill up.
Ultimately, this is a …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

The Leafs can apparently still end up in the draft lottery

A major point of confusion around the NHL’s plans for a 24-team summer tournament is how the draft order will be determined.

Since the league is expanding the field to 24 teams with 16 teams squaring off in a play-in round, it obviously wouldn’t be fair to determine the draft order based on the standings at the time the league was paused in March. In that instance, you could have a team like Montreal moving on to the playoffs while simultaneously ending up with a top pick.
Apparently, the solution to this issue is putting the losers of the play-in round into the draft lottery along with the seven non-playoff teams.

To add to Shayna’s info, I have heard that the 2020 NHL draft will not happen until after the playoffs. https://t.co/OwXNNwzmG9
— Corey Masisak (@cmasisak22) May 26, 2020

Though it isn’t fully clear, I would imagine that they’ll determine lottery odds based on the regular-season points percentage of the eight teams eliminated, and the seven non-playoff teams will have the highest odds.
This could have major ramifications for the Leafs. If they lose to Columbus in the play-in round, they would be put …

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Author: Cam Lewis / The Leafs Nation

The Blue Jays and Collin McHugh would be a nice match

One of the names surprisingly still kicking around there without a job is former Houstons Astros swingman Collin McHugh. According to Scott Mitchell, the Blue Jays have internally discussed McHugh as a late-spring addition.

McHugh has been discussed internally by #BlueJays.Long injury history and decent track record as a starter (4.14 ERA across 119 starts), but he’s potentially a high-end late-inning arm..206 BA against, 11 K/9, 2.76 ERA in 114 career IP out of the ‘pen. https://t.co/qTnSR9R5yY
— Scott Mitchell (@ScottyMitchTSN) February 28, 2020

Remember, the Jays didn’t add Daniel Hudson until March 25th of last year, meaning there’s plenty of time before the start of the season for the bullpen to completely change. As of right now, the Jays have a laundry list of interesting arms vying for jobs out of the ‘pen, but there’s always room for more, especially if it’s somebody with the upside and pedigree of McHugh.
According to MLB Trade Rumours, McHugh has been cleared to begin a throwing program after undergoing a non-surgical procedure on his right elbow in the off-season. He’s behind other pitchers and wouldn’t be ready …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Elliotte Friedman on future Leaf Joe Thornton and more

So the deadline is over and with it is the sense of urgency around any Leaf related rumour. While teams can still make trades (though not use the player in the playoffs) and we still have NCAA free agency season to look forward to, in reality the rumours of significance are on hold until the summer.
So let’s start there with Elliotte Friedman’s thought(s) on Joe Thornton coming to Toronto…
If Thornton is not sold on the Sharks, and he’s willing to seek out new life (boldly go where no one has gone before), my prediction is Toronto will be a factor. I can’t confirm this, but I believe the Maple Leafs considered adding him now.
Elliotte goes on to discuss how optically it didn’t make sense for Dubas at the deadline, but next season could make more sense…
Thornton’s made it clear he will make his salary fit. He’s a left-hand shot who could feed Auston Matthews/John Tavares from his strong side. (They have spent plenty of time with Zach Hyman and William Nylander on their weak sides, although both have …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Toronto Maple Leafs re-sign F Pierre Engvall

Pierre Engvall will be around for two more years as the Toronto Maple Leafs announced an extension for the forward Wednesday morning.

Engvall, 23, put pen to paper on a deal that will see him make $1.25-million this year and next.
In 35 games this year, the former 7th-round pick from the 2014 draft has scored seven goals and seven assists.
On Twitter: @zjlaing

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Author: Zach Laing / The Leafs Nation

How confident should you be in the Leafs making the playoffs?

We’re back at it. The second half (actually around 40%) of the season is in swing, and in case you haven’t noticed, the Leafs are trying to fight their way into a playoff spot – not exactly a place we would’ve thought they’d be hanging out when things got started in October.
But it is what it is, and there’s no mystery to how we got here. The team utterly quit on Mike Babcock in the opening portion of the season, skidding hard to a losing record and forcing management to make a change. A lot of damage had already been done and the hole had been dug, but with the arrival of Sheldon Keefe has come a much better on-ice product and a semi-surge in the standings. The games are also outright more fun to watch.
Still, even with the improvements, Toronto finds itself on the bubble. Truly.

As of today, the team is two points from both the second wildcard and third in the Atlantic. But things are jammed up; Tampa, Florida, and both wildcard teams are within easy striking distance. Third in the Metro (the Isles right now) …

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Author: Ryan Fancey / The Leafs Nation

Brandon Drury avoids arbitration with a one-year deal

With the arbitration deadline right around the corner, the Blue Jays have come to terms with one of their three unsigned players, inking Brandon Drury to a one-year deal worth $2.05 million.

Brandon Drury gets 2.05M, avoiding arb. #jays
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) January 9, 2020

Friday at 1:00 pm ET is the deadline for teams and players to submit suggested salary figures for 2020 ahead of arbitration. Now that Drury has a deal in place, the Jays only have closer Ken Giles and starter Matt Shoemaker as unresolved cases.
Drury was projected to make $2.5 million in arbitration by MLB Trade Rumours, so the Jays will ultimately get him at a slightly cheaper price than expected. Giles is projected to make $8.4 million and Shoemaker $3.8 million.

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Thomas Hatch’s spinning fastball and new cutter

The Rule 5 draft is just around the corner and with that comes decisions on what players should be added to the 40-man roster to avoid being selected. The deadline to add a player to the 40-man to be protected from the Rule 5 is November 20th. The Blue Jays have at least 22 players eligible for the Rule 5 draft, per this post from Future Blue Jays, the majority of whom are lower level players who will not be getting selected. Others like Santiago Espinal, are on the cusp of being big leaguers and may very well get selected if unprotected.
The Blue Jays currently have all 40 man rosters spots full, as they were forced to reinstate Matt Shoemaker, Tim Mayza and Ryan Borucki from the 60-day injured list. Once they are able to re-place those players on the IL they will have some space to add prospects.
Given the state of the Blue Jays pitching staff it would make sense they would want to keep as many pitchers as they can in the organization, making it likely that they will protect Thomas Hatch, who they acquired in July from the Chicago Cubs in exchange for David Phelps. So just how good is …

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Author: Paul Berthelot / Blue Jays Nation

Friedman: “Leafs decided on Tavares a few days ago” for captaincy

Beyond the hottest news around town, the captaincy of the Toronto Maple Leafs has been discussed at length. Questions regarding which member of the current core will have the “C” placed on their jersey before the puck drops on Oct. 2 against the Ottawa Senators have been at the core of every media scrum.
According to recent reports, it appears that John Tavares will be named captain in the near future.

“I do think the #Leafs decided on Tavares a few days ago. Everything I’ve learned in the last 48-72 hours tells me that’s the case.”@FriedgeHNIC on the captaincy & why the team should name one if that was the plan @RusicSN590 @thegoldenmuzzy.
: https://t.co/hpPUTNw6J7 pic.twitter.com/e5x2FXaFle
— Sportsnet 590 The FAN (@FAN590) September 27, 2019

Whether that is before the season begins or they do it in a mid-season ceremony, the constant conversation around the captaincy will come to a close sometime in the next few months.
Elliotte Friedman does approach this topic in his radio hit with a sense of caution, making it seem more like just his opinion on what he has heard, rather than any concrete statement on who it will be.
But given …

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Author: Thomas Williams / The Leafs Nation

Blue Jays acquire Derek Fisher for Sanchez, Biagini

Around the MLB, as soon as 4:00 pm ET hit, there was a flurry of trades that were finalized with mere seconds left until the deadline — in one of the many, the Blue Jays acquired outfielder Derek Fisher from the Houston Astros fo Aaron Sanchez, Joe Biagini, and Cal Stevenson.

Cal Stevenson, Biagini, Sanchez all going to Houston per source #BlueJays
— Ben Nicholson-Smith (@bnicholsonsmith) July 31, 2019

Just Fisher coming back to #blueJays per source
— Ben Nicholson-Smith (@bnicholsonsmith) July 31, 2019

Sanchez, arguably the biggest piece going to Houston, has had his fair share of big moments in Toronto, but since the memorable playoff games he has been stuck in a gutter that he just can’t get out of. With his free agency eligibility looming in 2021, the Jays decided to move on from the pitcher and try to get some value out of him instead of potentially non-tendering the pitcher this winter.
The 27-year-old starter leads the entire MLB in walks, so getting anything back for him should be considered somewhat a blessing. If anyone can fix him and return him to the ERA-title winning 2016 Sanchez, it’s the Astros — perhaps he’s more valuable to Houston than he would ever become in Toronto.

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Author: Thomas Williams / Blue Jays Nation