Armchair GM: Blue Jays Need a Lefty Bat, Cards Need A Catcher

Introducing a new series! This is Armchair GM, a weekly to bi-weekly segment in which I take a look at some of the rumours swirling around the Blue Jays world, and the baseball world at large. I’ll identify a team need, then flesh those rumours out into fully fledged trade ideas that I think make some sense for both sides.
Early Wednesday morning, the Blue Jays announced that they’d dealt Teoscar Hernandez to the Mariners for a couple of pitchers, Erik Swanson and Adam Macko. One of the biggest talking points throughout the entire season was that the Jays needed a left handed hitter, and they just opened a spot in the outfield for one. Of course, the Jays have shown early interest in free agents such as Brandon Nimmo, but it’s possible that their best bet is just through trades. Another common talking point of late is that the Cardinals may be a good fit, as they have a surplus of outfielders but lack a catcher now that Yadier Molina has called it a career.

The #BlueJays have enviable catching depth. They don’t have to make a trade, but they’re exploring the possibility
So who will have interest? From the least likely suitors (Orioles) to the truly intriguing fits (Cardinals), let’s predict who will call
— Ben Nicholson-Smith (@bnicholsonsmith) November 9, 2022

There’s a reason h …

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Author: Tate Kispech / Blue Jays Nation

Blue Jays, Position by Position: Without external help, the bullpen is already in good shape heading into next season

In the last installment of this series, we’ll look at the Blue Jays bullpen.

I won’t lie, I thought the bullpen was actually pretty good in 2022. It’s also looking to be much better heading into 2023, as they have quite a few relief prospects who could make the jump next season.
So, let’s recap how each of the core relievers did in 2022, the depth, and the prospects the Jays have. Afterward, we’ll look at what they may do externally to improve the arm barn.
The guaranteed relievers for 2023:
First, we’ll look at the pitchers that I believe are a lock for the bullpen in 2023.
Jordan Romano:
Starting with the bullpen ace, we have closer Jordan Romano. The 29-year-old Canadian posted a 2.11 ERA and 2.82 FIP in 64 innings pitched, along with a 28.3 K% and 8.1 BB%. His 36 saves ranked sixth in the league, but that doesn’t tell you how many one-run leads he protected.

With the winning run in scoring position, Jordan Romano shuts it down.
— MLB (@MLB) September 4, 2022

Romano was an integral part of the Blue Jays in 2022, and he will continue to be such as he won’t hit free agency until 2026.
Anthony Bass:
The big acquisition in the bullpen at the trade deadline, the recently turned 35-year-old had an impressive season split between Miami and Toronto. He had a 1.54 ERA and 3.00 FIP in 70.1 innings pitched. Along with that, he had a 26.5 K% and a 7.3 BB%.

Anthony Bass White Castle Special.
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) September 15, 2022

His numbers with the Jays ticked up quite a bit, however, as he had a 1.75 ERA and 4.63 FIP in 25.2 innings pitched.
Bass has a $3 million club option which will more than likely be picked up by the Blue Jays. He will be a free agent at the end of the 2023 season.
Yimi Garcia:
Garcia was si …

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Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation

News and Notes: The insurance on Hyun Jin Ryu’s contract, Yankees have “uneasy feeling” about Aaron Judge’s free agency, and more!

The World Series kicks off on Friday. Do you know what that means? It’s almost Transaction Season.

The big talk around Blue Jays land over the past few days has been about Hyun Jin Ryu, specifically the insurance on his contract. The Twitter account Blue Jays Hotstove brought up that the Blue Jays fully ensured Ryu’s contract and that they’ll allocate the money they were expecting to pay him back into the payroll for 2023…

Not sure if this has already been reported but the Blue Jays have Ryu’s contract fully ensured in case of injury so they will recoup all dollars for time missed.
The plan is for the club to reallocate that money back into the payroll for next season
— BLUEJAYS HOTSTOVE (@bluejayhotstove) October 27, 2022

This is something that’s been talked about quite a bit in the past but the details are a little murky.
Ryu, of course, inked a four-year, $80 million deal with the Blue Jays back in December of 2019. He had an excellent showing in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, started off well in 2021 but faded as time went along, and then completely fell off early in 2022 and wound up having season-ending elbow surgery in June. There’s a chance that Ryu comes back late in 2023 but the reasonable bet here is that he’s thrown his last pitch for the Blue Jays.
Given Ryu’s injury history (he missed all of 2015 and most of 2016 after undergoing shoulder surgery and was limited to 15 starts in 2018 because of a groin injury), having his contract insured would have been t …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

“This is my house” — Vladdy walks off Yankees in series opener

Entering a series with a bounty of storylines – the Yankees looking to clinch the AL East, the Blue Jays looking to clinch a playoff spot, and Aaron Judge eagerly searching for the single-season home run record – it might have been overlooked that one of the best players in the MLB still resides in the Toronto Blue Jays clubhouse.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. had a chance to walk off the Yankees in the bottom of the 10th tonight, and he came through for his third walk-off hit of the season. With the Blue Jays magic number getting smaller and smaller by the day, as well as their odds to perhaps steal the division from the Yankees, Guerrero’s clutch hit kept all of it alive. On top of it all, us fans were treated to several seconds of Vladdy walking off the field shouting “My house! This is my house!”

Vladdy walkoff!!! Jays magic number is 3.
— Tim and Friends (@timandfriends) September 27, 2022

— Big Nick Turturro (@NickTurturro1) September 27, 2022

Guerrero’s walk-off hit, the bullpen, adjoined with some outstanding in-game management from John Schneider contributed to Toronto’s 3-2 win over New York on Monday night.
With the game tied at 2 entering the 10th inning, Schneider went to Anthony Bass to face the 7-8-9 section of the Yankees lineup with the ghost runner on second. Bass sandwiched a walk in between strikeouts of Harrison Bader and Jose Trevino, setting the stage for select strings for Schneider to pull. The interim Jays skipper decided to pull Bass in favor of Tim Mayza. Schneider then intentionally walked Judge to load the bases for Anthony Rizzo. It took the bat out of Judge’s hands, and opened up the left-on-left matchup for Mayza.
Rizzo grounded out, and the Blue Jays kept the game tied at 2. Yankees fans peppered throughout the Rogers Center boo’d the intentional walk, but the Blue Jays simply didn’t care. They’re trying to get in the playoffs, and that means that playoff-like decisions need to be made. The plan worked, and you know what happen …

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Author: Evan Stack / Blue Jays Nation

A big strike zone helped Martin Perez carve up the Blue Jays on Sunday

Winning the first two games of the series was an absolute must for the Blue Jays. John Schneider had planned for a bullpen day on Sunday, and the Blue Jays were facing Martin Perez, the Rangers’ ace in the series finale.

Toronto couldn’t overcome the above, as they fell to Texas 4-1 and failed to sweep the series.
Perez was dealing, which should come as no surprise since he has been having a career season with the Rangers. He was a hot topic at the trade deadline, as he was a name that floated around trade talks with a few teams including the Blue Jays. Perez threw six innings, giving up six hits, one run, two walks, and striking out seven.
Perez was solid, but he also got a few beneficial calls from home plate umpire Rob Drake. Multiple Blue Jays hitters were displeased with Drake’s strike zone, mainly Bo Bichette. Bichette went 1-for-4 on the day, but in all three of his at-bats resulting in outs, he took issue with at least one of Drake’s calls. This included his strikeout looking in the top of the 3rd, in which Bichette stopped to have a back-and-forth with Drake explaining that he felt differently about Drake’s Doug Eddings-esque strike zone. Bo was …

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Author: Evan Stack / Blue Jays Nation

Blue Jays Nation 2022 Mid-Season Prospect Countdown: 10-1

The last article in the series, featuring players ranked 10th to 1st!

Here are all the other articles and if you want to do the countdown the right way, you can click the article title below to read them first.
Blue Jays Nation 2022 Mid-Season Prospect Countdown: The Players Who Just Missed The Top 60 List
Blue Jays Nation 2022 Mid-Season Prospect Countdown: 60-51
Blue Jays Nation 2022 Mid Season Prospect Countdown: 50-41
Blue Jays Nation 2022 Mid Season Prospect Countdown: 40-31
Blue Jays Nation 2022 Mid Season Prospect Countdown: 30-21
Blue Jays Nation 2022 Mid-Season Prospect Countdown: 20-11
As in each of those articles, I’ll be using clips of players in High A, Double A, and Triple A throughout the series of articles. For players in Dunedin, I’ll be using exit velocities numbers, pitching velocity as well as clips from the three series on MiLB TV.
For players in the Rookie Leagues (Florida Complex League and Dominican Summer League), we’ll strictly be using the season numbers. Furthermore, the year is done for those individuals.
Also, the most important aspect to me when evaluating players is their statistics, as it quantifies what players do with the tools. Afterward, their ceiling/floor is important, while proximity to the MLB matters for some, especially closer to 60.
Starting with our tenth best prospect.
#10 Yosver Zulueta:
This one may be surprising to you, but while I think Yosver Zulueta could be a mid-rotation starter or a high-leverage reliever, there are some issues that push me away from placing him higher up in this article.
Signed in 2019, Zulueta missed 2020 due to COVID (and Tommy John) and 2021 due to an ACL tear.

Zulueta just fanned his first runner throwing…
100 mph!!!!!!#BlueJays #NextLevel
— Brennan Delaney (@Brennan_L_D) July 7, 2022

The 24-year-old started his first full professional season with the Dunedin Blue Jays, posting a 3 ERA and a 1.41 FIP in 12 innings pitched. He had an incredibly high 45.1 K% in those 12 innings while limiting walks to 5.9%.
He was promoted to High A Vancouver, where he posted a 3.80 ERA and 3.37 FIP in 23.2 innings pitched. Zulueta’s K% dropped to 30.4, while his BB% increased to 10.8, a worrisome sign as he started to pitch against players his age.

Zulueta has a pretty nasty slider as well.
K thread.#BlueJays #NextLevel
— Brennan Delaney (@Brennan_L_D) July 24, 2022

Zulueta continued to rise up the levels of the minor leagues, as he pitched 10.1 innings with the Double A Fishe …

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Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation

Alek Manoah and Gerrit Cole beef as Yankees avoid sweep with 4-2 Sunday win

In an attempt to sweep a four game series in the Bronx just like the 2021 Jays did last September, the 2022 Jays fell a little short. The Yankees got the best of Toronto today 4-2 behind a late two-run home run from Andrew Benintendi. It was Benintendi’s first home run as Yankee (because of course), and only his fourth on the season.

Alek Manoah was the starting pitcher for the Blue Jays today in a ballpark where he has been very successful during his young career. While he was very good today, his defense surely did not help him through the early stages of the game.
In the first inning, with Anthony Rizzo on first, DJ LeMahieu shot a ball into left field for a single. Rizzo advanced to third on the play, but left fielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. tried to rush a throw to Matt Chapman at third base. Gurriel short hopped the throw, and Chapman was unable to get to it. The ball got away, and Rizzo scored. Gurriel was charged with the error, but Manoah wasn’t charged with the run.
Whit Merrifield would even things up at 1 in the top …

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Author: Evan Stack / Blue Jays Nation

Teoscar Hernandez’s late homer sends Blue Jays to 5-3 win

In a series where Jays fans were hoping to face Tigers pitchers who will be Blue Jays in the near future, it was the performance against former Blue Jays that stole the headlines in today’s 5-3 win over Detroit.

The Tigers sent former Jays starter Drew Hutchison to the mound, and with the exception of the first inning, he was in total command. Hutchison threw 5 innings in all, allowing only two hits, one run, three walks, and three strikeouts. After Hutchison, it was Derek Law, who was a Blue Jay in 2019. Some Jays fans may not remember Law, but he was part of the return in the Kevin Pillar trade. Law served as a set-up man/closer for the team for the majority of the season.
Lourdes Gurriel Jr. got the scoring started in the 1st inning, driving in Vladimir Guerrero Jr. with an RBI single. The beneficiary of the RBI was Guerrero stealing second base during Gurriel’s at-bat. Aggressiveness on the base paths is something we have seen a lot more of during John Scnheider’s short tenure as the Blue Jays skipper, and it has been paying off as the Jays are adding a run here or there with good baserunning.
As mentioned earlier, Hutchison kept the bats quiet, b …

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Author: Evan Stack / Blue Jays Nation

The Mark Shapiro Era Draft Retrospective: 2021

The last article of this series will focus on the 2021 draft, which saw the Jays have two top 100 picks.

The Blue Jays lost their second rounder and some international money due to the signing of George Springer. While this was absolutely worth it, this article may be shorter than the rest in this series.
Due to this article only having two players featured, I included a fourth player in yesterday’s article who the Jays took 106th overall. The link for all previous articles can be found at the bottom of this article.
Gunnar Hoglund:
This section of the article was actually written all the way in early March, as Gunnar Hoglund was going to rank as one of my Top 20 prospects. Unfortunately for me, he was traded ten days after I wrote this, so it’s been sitting on the backburner. I think I’ve finally found a use for it, as Hoglund has yet to return.
Pitching for Ole’ Miss in 2021, Hoglund pitched 62.2 innings and posted a 2.87 ERA with a K/9 of 13.8. However, his BB/9 increased to a high of 2.4 (which isn’t very high.) In mid May 2021, the then 21-year-old suffered a tear in his UCL, resulting in Tommy John surgery. 

all 14 K’s from Gunnar Hoglund’s excellent Friday night vs. ULM:
— Céspedes Family …

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Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation

The Mark Shapiro Era Draft Retrospective: 2020

The penultimate articles in this series will focus on the 2020 draft.

I won’t lie, I will cheat a bit in this article. The Jays only had three top 100 picks in this draft, but their fourth rounder was chosen as the 106th pick. Since there were only two players drafted in the top 100 last season, I’ll include that 106th rounder because he deserves some love.
So what did this draft entail? Unlike the years prior, this draft only had five rounds. This was partly due to COVID, but the MLB was also planning to only have 20 rounds while also removing two different minor leagues (Short Advanced A and Rookie Advanced).
Due to only having five rounds, there weren’t a lot of high schoolers chosen in this draft, in fact, the Jays went with five college players. Let’s take a look at them.
Austin Martin:
At one point, it was speculated that Austin Martin would go first overall in the 2020 draft. Unfortunately for him, he didn’t. It was a surprise to many that he actually dropped to the Blue Jays, who chose him with their fifth overall pick.
Here’s a snippet of Martin’s Baseball America pre-draft scouting report:
Martin has long been one of the favourites for the first overall pick in the 2020 draft. Martin has some of the best pure hitting ability in the class with eye-popping bat speed, excellent contact ability and impressive plate discipline. He is more pur …

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Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation