Building a better Leafs team through signing bonuses and one absurd idea

Signing bonuses. The Leafs have them. Free agents want them. It’s a beautiful situation to be in for the Leafs, minus the fact that the Leafs have about $8M to spend on 5 positions at the moment. That is decidedly less ideal, but of course there is the 10% offseason salary cap inflator for Toronto to take advantage of at the moment.
The fact that signing bonuses are an advantage for the Leafs is nothing new. In a regular season this is a huge advantage for Toronto in free agency, but this year it could allow Toronto to pay a fraction of the price that other teams are paying, at least on short term deals to bring players in for guaranteed money.
From Elliotte Friedman’s 31 Thoughts:

This is going to be a big one. Honestly, I missed how big an issue this could be.
The NHL and NHLPA put their abrasive history behind them to reach a long-term CBA extension before the return to play. In it, the players accepted a 10 per cent deferral and a 20 per cent escrow deduction, which means they are entitled to 72 per cent of their gross salaries …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

What to expect from Ilya Mikheyev this summer

No Leafs free agency signing has better captured the imagination of the fan base than Ilya Mikheyev. The KHL forward instantly made splashes on Leafs twitter and blogs with his unconditional love for soup, and further cemented his popularity with his speed and gritty play on the ice. For the Leafs, the addition of Mikheyev last summer was a nice depth signing in a year where the lineup was in constant flux due to injuries on both the left and right wing. Unfortunately, Mikheyev suffered his own quite scary injury when his wrist was slashed by Jesper Bratt in late December – in classic Mikheyev fashion, he battled through shortly after the incident to start a breakout amidst a Devil’s forecheck before rushing to the bench.
This has left more questions than answers for the Leafs, who need to constantly make careful decisions about resigning players, and didn’t benefit from the smaller sample size of games for Mikheyev. This post will attempt to asses Mikheyev’s value based on his production, suggest some potential routes forward for the Leafs, and go into additional detail on the series against Columbus.
By the numbers
As mentioned above, …

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Author: mackinawstats / The Leafs Nation

Mark Shapiro says the Blue Jays are “exploring” extensions for the young core. What would those look like?

With more and more young stars signing long-term extensions before reaching their arbitration years, eyes have turned to the Blue Jays’ front office and how they plan to handle their young core. Bo Bichette, Vlad Guerrero Jr., and Cavan Biggio just broke into the league last year, but it isn’t out of the question to start talking about long-term contracts.

Mark Shapiro appeared on Writers Bloc with Stephen Brunt and Jeff Blair on Sportsnet 590 on Tuesday and this was one of the topics the trio discussed.
“That is a strategy which (has been) a very big part of my career,” said Shapiro. “And it’s something that we believe strongly in.
“Whether we do anything or not, I would assume we’ve explored it or are exploring it with every one of our young players that we have a strong belief are gonna be good players here for a long time.”
Back when he was with Cleveland, Shapiro was involved with signing Corey Kluber to a long-term extension before he was able to reach arbitration for the first time. After two full seasons in the Majors, Cleveland and Kluber agreed …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Report: Blue Jays sign former NPB pitcher Rafael Dolis

According to Scott Mitchell of TSN, the Blue Jays are signing RHP Rafael Dolis. Mitchell notes that it’ll be a one-year deal plus a team option.
Dolis, 32, appeared most recently for the Hanshin Tigers of Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB), tossing 57.1 innings to an ERA of 2.51, striking out 52 and walking 12. Before that, he briefly appeared in the majors for the Chicago Cubs over the course of three seasons.

#BlueJays are in agreement with right-hander Rafael Dolis on a one-year deal plus a club option, per source.The 32-year-old reliever has been pitching in Japan, but has 44 innings of MLB experience from back in 2011-13.
— Scott Mitchell (@ScottyMitchTSN) January 25, 2020

In total, the native of La Romano, Dominican Republic has appeared in over 200 MiLB games in the Cubs, Tigers, and Giants organizations.
More to come.

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Author: Hayden Godfrey / Blue Jays Nation

Blue Jays sign Ryan Dull to a minor-league deal

The signing spree continues! I’ll admit, this one isn’t very exciting. It’s actually quite Dull. Ha haaaa!!!

The Blue Jays have reportedly inked righty reliever Ryan Dull to a minor-league deal that also features an invite to spring training.

Source: #BlueJays in agreement with free-agent RHP Ryan Dull.
— Robert Murray (@ByRobertMurray) January 18, 2020

Dull joins a whole bunch of guys aiming to compete for jobs in a completely wide-open bullpen. You have Ken Giles as the closer and, well, that’s about it. I would assume Wilmer Font has himself a role next year, as does the newly-acquired Anthony Bass, but, after that, it’s anyone’s guess.
Since posting a stellar 2016 season with the Oakland A’s in which he posted a 2.42 ERA over 74 1/3 innings, Dull has been pretty bad. He posted a 4.81 ERA between 2017 and 2018 and found himself bouncing around on waivers in 2019. Oakland waived him, San Fransisco claimed him, then they waived him and the Yankees claimed him, and then he got waived again and the Jays claimed him. We saw Dull make one appearance in Toronto, allowing one run over an inning and a third. He …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

What makes Hyun-Jin Ryu so good?

The Blue Jays have themselves an ace.  By signing Hyun-Jin Ryu the Blue Jays are making a statement that they are ready to start contending with their young core of position players. Adding a pitcher like Ryu is substantial. He is fresh off a season where he led the league in ERA at 2.32 and finished second in the National League Cy Young voting. Since Ryu joined the Major Leagues in 2013 his 2.98 ERA ranks eighth among starting pitchers.
The risk with Ryu has always been health. He’s only pitched 740.1 innings in his career and only has four seasons where he has made at least 25 starts. The Blue Jays need Ryu to stay healthy as when he is healthy he is one of the best starting pitchers in baseball.
It’s hard to pinpoint what exactly makes Ryu so special. His change-up might be the most effective in the league. He keeps hitters off-balance by effectively mixing his pitches, you never know what’s coming in what count. His command is unbelievable; he can throw any of his six pitches for strikes at any point in an at bat.

Hyun-Jin Ryu, 5Ks on 5 Different Pitches (with Tails).

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Author: Paul Berthelot / Blue Jays Nation

Tanner Roark Brings Durability to Blue Jays Rotation

It wasn’t the flashiest signing but the Blue Jays inking of Tanner Roark for 2 years $24M, brings durability and consistency to a rotation that is sorely lacking that. Roark was worth 2.0 WAR last season, split between the Reds and Athletics. Steamer, the projection system hosted at Fangraphs, projects him to worth a similar 1.6 WAR this upcoming season.
Roark was signed primarily because of his durability. He has thrown at least 150 innings in each of the last four seasons. He should in theory replace the 124.0 innings thrown by Clay Buchholz, Clayton Richard and Edwin Jackson last season (a trio that combined to be worth -0.6 WAR).
Roark is your standard back of the rotation arm. He doesn’t get a ton of strikeouts but gets enough (21.9% K rate), to be effective. Same with walks, he doesn’t have pinpoint control (7.1% BB rate), but it’s good enough to be effective. The biggest thing for Roark is the long ball. His home run per fly ball rate has been double digits in each of the last three seasons. His best two seasons in 2014 and 2016 he was able to keep that under 10% and his ERA was under three. …

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Author: Paul Berthelot / Blue Jays Nation

Blue Jays Signing of James Dykstra shows the Evolution of Talent Discovery

The Blue Jays made a minor league signing yesterday, inking pitcher James Dykstra. Now normally minor league signings don’t generate much buzz. The Blue Jays have already signed a couple players to minor league deals already including A.J. Cole. What makes Dykstra different is this:

I want to send a huge thank you to @PitchingNinja!! With your help on this video I have signed with the @BlueJays
— James Dykstra (@James_Dykstra) December 9, 2019

This is a player who got his name out there by posting videos of himself on social media. A look through his twitter feed there are multiple videos like this one above highlighting his high end velocity.
So what do we know about Dykstra? He was drafted three times, going in the 40th round to the Red Sox in 2009, the 50th round to the Rockies in 2010 and then in the sixth round to the White Sox in 2013. He was a senior sign by the White Sox signing for just $30,000. He spent four seasons in the White Sox organization where he established himself as a groundball pitcher (58.8% in 382.2 innings, per Fangraphs) and a strike thrower (single digit walk rates in each …

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Author: Paul Berthelot / Blue Jays Nation

Toronto Raptors: Kyle Lowry extension paves path for loaded 2021 free agency

Kyle Lowry signing a one-year, $31M extension with the Toronto Raptors has significant implications for the summer of 2021 and the chase of Giannis Antetokounmpo. Overpaid. Not worth it. $31M extension is too much for a declining point guard. These are the opinions of some fans around the NBA as news broke that Kyle Lowry […]
Toronto Raptors: Kyle Lowry extension paves path for loaded 2021 free agency – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Aditya Chandran / Raptors HQ

Kyle Lowry’s contract extension means the Toronto Raptors want to win

After signing Kyle Lowry to a one-year contract extension, it looks like the Toronto Raptors still have their sights firmly set on winning. The Toronto Raptors championship tour continues on! After winning their first-ever NBA title last season, the Raptors waltz into this season knowing they are the reigning NBA champions and that the general […]
Kyle Lowry’s contract extension means the Toronto Raptors want to win – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Thomas Valentine / Raptors HQ