Artur Akhtyamov is in Toronto, but that doesn’t mean a signing is imminent

You know it’s June because we’re scrambling to report on the sighting of a late-round goaltending prospect visiting Toronto with his agent.

Keep Calm and Be-Leaf… Toronto meet your goaltending prospect of the future Artur Akhtyamov! #WeAreGoldStar! pic.twitter.com/mxRXY87XCR
— Dan Milstein-Hockey (@HockeyAgent1) June 26, 2022

Now, this is wonderfully vague and noncommittal. This could be a player (who last time we checked) is under contract in the KHL next season just visiting the city of the team that holds his NHL rights. He could be laying down the groundwork for coming over to Toronto next season and wants to visit the Leafs facilities, meet with player development folks, and probably visit Canada’s Wonderland. It stands to reason that he’d be doing a lot of that with his agent, who is also likely acting as his interpreter a lot of time. (Also Dan Milstein looks like he’d be fun to spend a day with at an amusement park.)
There is of course the other option, the one that we all had our minds go to first, and that is the possibility of Akhtyamov signing. That’s tougher because of the whole KHL contract things, but to say the state of communication between the NHL and KHL is strained at the moment is an understatement. Here’s basically where they are at for honouring contracts:
“We will have only limited contractual information regarding players who are currently or last played in the KHL,” NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly wrote in the memo.
In order to sign a player from the KHL, the interested NHL team must inquire with Central Registry to inquire if the last information available from the KHL demonstrates that the player is on an expiring K …

Read More

Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Blue Jays’ payroll flexibity could be utilized as leverage at trade deadline

Nearing the midway point of the season, it’s almost time to start thinking about the upcoming trade deadline, which falls on Aug. 2 this year. For the Toronto Blue Jays, who’ll surely be looking to upgrade their roster, there are a few different options they could use as trade chips.
Of course, the most obvious route would be to utilize the organization’s talented farm system to help improve the big-league club. Not every prospect would be available, obviously, especially not Gabriel Moreno or Orelvis Martinez. Starter Ricky Tiedemann has now likely emerged into that category, as well.
Another resource the front office could turn to is the franchise’s payroll flexibility. Entering the 2022 season, Toronto featured a CBT payroll of approximately $190.2 million, ranking 11th-highest in the majors. But there still might be some additional room for spending if ownership agrees to increase the payroll slightly north of $200 million.
It’s unlikely the team’s finances would reach the first luxury tax threshold of $230 million. And they probably don’t need to spend that much, anyway. Still, management could potentially reduce its acquisition costs at the trade deadline if they acquire expiring high-priced contracts along with its primary targets.
One franchise that’s expected to sell off its assets this summer is the Colorado Rockies, who currently sit last in the NL West with a 30-37 record. While the Rockies ha …

Read More

Author: Thomas Hall / Blue Jays Nation

BJN Radio – Ep. 86: A feel-good win against the mighty Yankees, searching for bullpen help, and more!

It’s amazing how quickly things can change in baseball.

That really looked like it was going to be a completely miserable weekend as the Yankees were on their way to a three-game sweep in Toronto, but a grand slam and a three-run bomb completely changed everything.
Rather than rolling into a road trip having been swept by a team that looks uncatchable in the standings, the Blue Jays now get to roll with the swagger of a team that pulled off the biggest comeback against the Yankees this season.
We talked about the good vibes that came from Sunday’s game and also touched on the unfortunate reality that the Yankees are incredibly good. We also looked at Jim Bowden’s 125-player Trade Bait Board from The Athletic and speculated which arms could help the starting rotation and the bullpen.
Finally, we took a look ahead to the upcoming series against the White Sox, a team the Blue Jays swept earlier this season.
You can listen to the episode here…
POINTSBET IS LIVE IN ONTARIO

Read More

Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Pre-Series Notes: Is there any hope of catching the Yankees?

It’s the middle of June and we have a must-win series.

That sounds dramatic, I know, but the New York Yankees are rolling into town with a 10-game lead in the American League East. They’re fresh off of sweeping aside the Tampa Bay Rays while the Blue Jays managed to win just two of four against the basement-dwelling Baltimore Orioles.
Now, a 10-game lead isn’t insurmountable. The Blue Jays were eight games back of the Yanks back in 2015 before they got themselves together and went on a late-season run. But the thing is that the context is very different in 2022. These aren’t the 2015 Yankees, this year’s group is much better, and the Blue Jays aren’t some underachiever hovering around the .500 mark that’s waiting to explode.
Among other things, in order to catch New York, the Blue Jays are going to have to do well in the head-to-head games they have remaining. The two teams split a four-game series in The Bronx early in the season but the Yankees have won four of five over the Blue Jays since.
So, all told, the Blue Jays are 3-6 in their first nine against the Yanks and they’ll play each other 10 more times. Take two of three here and you’re only nine back!

Worth men …

Read More

Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

The Jays have 9 players playing at an all-star level

It’s all-star voting time.

While I personally am looking forward to the draft, which is taking place around the same time, the all-star game experience is a cool time for a lot of fans.
Last season, the Blue Jays sent four all-stars to the mid summer classic, Vladimir Guerrero Jr as a starter, Marcus Semien as a starter, Teoscar Hernandez as a starter, and Bo Bichette.
This season, you could make a case for quite a few more. Let’s look at all of their cases.
Santiago Espinal at second base:
When Marcus Semien left in free agency, it kind of sunk in that no one would produce one of the best seasons a middle infielder ever had. However, Espinal has done a wonderful job playing at an all-star level this season.
This season, the 27-year-old infielder is slashing .288/.344/.444 with 5 homers (a career high) with a wRC+ of 121. Furthermore, he has a K% of 16.3% and a BB% of 7.9%, rather low numbers.

Santiago Espinal – Toronto Blue Jays (5) pic.twitter.com/x4mxDNuLED
— MLB HR Videos (@MLBHRVideos) June 7, 2022

This doesn’t even factor in his defense, which is some of the best in the major leagues. His Defensive Runs Saved of 4 is the 6th best, only behind Jonathan Schoop, Gleyber Torres and Trevor Story in the American League.
Espinal’s Outs Above Average of 6 sits second in the major leagues, only trailing Schoop who sits at… 11. Holy crap. While Schoop is on his way to winning the Gold Glove, Espinal is no slouch in that department.

Pas encore d’attaque mais La Défense bien présente avec Espinal pic.twitter.com/b0e8SmDSBS
— Blue Jays FR (35-24) (@MLB_BlueJaysFR) May 2, 2022

Factoring in both offense and defense, Espinal’s fWAR of 1.9 ranks tied for 3rd in the league, trailing just T …

Read More

Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation

Rumours: Dumping Mrazek, Mikheyev’s next contract, a new old guy, and why the Leafs next goaltender should come via trade

It’s another week of Leafs rumours, and things are starting to ramp up, at least when it comes to interesting speculation. The Leafs organization has notoriously been silent about what they are trying to do, but that isn’t going to stop us or others from talking about the team, and as such, we’ll deal with what has been put out there.
Mrazek to Chicago?
Jonas Siegel and Scott Powers of The Athletic undertook an exercise of exploring whether or not a Mrazek to Chicago deal makes sense for both teams. The approach was based on the Leafs not retaining salary, and the Blackhawks getting back a second round pick (which the Leafs don’t have until 2024) and a B-level prospect (Nick Abruzzese was mentioned). There was also talk of a roster player potentially being part of it, with Justin Holl being the example. There was also some discussion of whether it would take the Leafs first in order to get this done.
All of this seems ridiculous for a few reasons. First of all the Leafs buyout isn’t so terrible that they couldn’t just suck up that unfortunate situation and hold onto draft picks that will eventually turn into players that will alleviate the cap struggles they constantly put themselves in.
There is also the fact with some salary retention the Leafs could move Mrazek with relative ease and not take on the additional burden of two years …

Read More

Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Top prospect Gabriel Moreno will join the Blue Jays in Detroit

It’s time for Gabriel Moreno.

According to Keegan Matheson, the Blue Jays are calling up Moreno, the organization’s top prospect, to join the team in Detroit when they take on the Tigers this upcoming weekend.

#BlueJays No. 1 prospect Gabriel Moreno is joining the team in Detroit and he will be activated at some point during this weekend’s series, per source.
It’s time.
— Keegan Matheson (@KeeganMatheson) June 9, 2022

This was the call-up that everybody wanted when Danny Jansen was placed on the Injured List earlier this week but it was delayed because the team surely didn’t want Moreno rushing on a redeye flight to make his big league debut.
Zack Collins came up, played one game, and now he’ll likely go back down to Triple-A so that Moreno and Alejandro Kirk can be the team’s catching tandem.
Moreno is currently slashing a .323/.377/.406 line with the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons. While his power hasn’t been there yet this season, he’s hit fairly well, and his ability behind the plate will be an upgrade to the team as well.
Some further reading on Moreno from our Prospect Countdown…
According to Fangraphs, his .500 career slugging is likely unsustainable. In fact, Fangraphs also mentions that once you take a look at his batted ball data, it’s presumed that his numbers from 145 plate appearances in Double A are quite inflated. They also mention that it’s likely that Moreno finds himself on a few all-star teams.
MLB Pipeline says that the 22-year-old has a great pop time and a plus arm which you can see with his 43.75% caught stealing. This is helped by a pop time (how fast a catcher can get on his feet) of 1.95 seconds, which is above average. His block and receiving also improved (remember he was a shortstop) in 2021.
Baseball America notes that his “quickness, bat speed, hitting actions, and excellent contact skills” are elite. Mentioned earlier in the article, he …

Read More

Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Leaflets: Trading up/down at the draft, assistant coach shuffle, worse cap situations than the Leafs

It’s another week of Leaflets and we’ll see if my takes evolve/devolve this week as we get further away from actual Leafs hockey and still have plenty of time to kill before free agency, the draft, and all the adjoining shenanigans make the Leafs relevant again.
Trading up vs. Trading down at the draft
The draft combine is wrapping up and with it the reactions to questions meant to disarm/throw players off guard, and other foolishness like judging players based on their wingspan. (I can already sense someone getting angered by me not carrying about wingspan and crafting an important comment on why it matters, but the rest of us can all agree that person needs to calm down.)
Anyway, the combine usually marks the point in the calendar when it’s socially acceptable to start caring about the draft, so with that, I’m going to take on one of my favourite topics and that is trading up or trading down at the draft.
The Leafs have a lot of trading down on record under Kyle Dubas. In his early days with the Leafs he made his fondness for Bellichicking the draft quite clear, and while it’s probably still more on Hunter than Dubas for winding up with Dermott over Konecny in one of those sc …

Read More

Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Rumours: Sandin’s situation is “something you have to keep an eye on”, Campbell’s next contract, and looking for size in the top six

It’s still relatively early into the offseason but we’ve seen the Leafs begin taking care of some of their business. Giordano is signed at a convenient little number, and Jason Spezza has hung up his skates for the excitement of office work. There is still plenty of other work to do and plenty of other decisions to be made and the Leafs goaltending situation and what to do with Toronto’s RFA defenders are taking center stage this week.
Sandin Watch
On Monday’s 32 Thoughts podcast (at around the 50:30 mark) Elliotte Friedman gently dropped the hint that league sources are telling him that Rasmus Sandin is someone to “just keep an eye on.” This was then immediately qualified with the fact that this could mean a lot of things, it could have to do with his contract, his place on the Leafs, or maybe there is trade interest, and that was qualified with the fact that he believes the Leafs like Sandin as a player, Sandin enjoys being a Leaf, and there certainly hasn’t been a trade requested. So very simply, keep an eye on Sandin and it’s not something that needs to be blown out of proportion.
So now let’s blow it out of proportion.
Sandin is another left-handed defenseman, and the Leafs have Rielly, Muzzin, Giordano on the left side, and Brod …

Read More

Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

With the 77th overall pick, the Blue Jays could select…

It’s been awhile since I wrote an article in this series, but that just means that we’re that much closer to the 2022 MLB draft.
Today, we’ll be looking at prospects that the Blue Jays could pick with their 77th overall pick. This pick was acquired when Marcus Semien (.199/.266/.274, 60 wRC+, 1 homer) signed with the Texas Rangers.
The Jays also own the 78th pick, but that will be a separate article. I debated putting it in the same article, but these articles are used to inform the reader of players that the Jays could pick.
Eric Brown:
I’ve said this quite a lot, but I don’t think a team should ever draft for need. Despite the Blue Jays having a surplus of middle infielders in the high minors, it wouldn’t hurt to add another one.
Eric Brown, a 21-year-old shortstop, is a junior at Coastal Carolina University. Through his three seasons with the university, he has a .306/.428/.508 slash line in 547 plate appearances. This includes 16 homers and more walks (76) than strikeouts (74).
His 2022 is even more impressive as he owns a .332/.456/.563 slash line with seven homers in 242 plate appearances. Furthermore, he has walked 34 times compared to 27 strikeouts, which you know I love in a prospect.
According to Pipeline, he has a weird batting stance, but he still has the ability to make continuous contact. They also note that Brown has a high baseball IQ, a …

Read More

Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation