News and Notes: Blue Jays have been linked to Masataka Yoshida, while Kevin Kiermaier and Joey Gallo could also be fits

What do Kevin Kiermaier, Joey Gallo, and Masataka Yoshida have in common? Well, they all play in the outfield, and all bat left-handed!

While I hope the Jays still remain in the hunt for Brandon Nimmo, it doesn’t hurt to look at some possible names that could fill in as a fourth outfielder.  With how the Jays utilize the Designated Hitter spot, these fourth outfielders would likely get an opportunity to play.
Masataka Yoshida:
Per The Athletics’ Will Sammon, the Jays are one of the teams linked to the Japanese outfielder by various sites overseas.
The 29-year-old lefty slashed .335/.447/.561 with 21 homers in 508 plate appearances with the Orix Buffaloes. He was also an on-base machine, with a walk rate of 15.7% and an incredibly low strikeout rate of 8.1%.

運命の首位攻防第3R#吉田正尚 勢いそのままに先制2ランホームラン!
ソフトバンク•ワイモバイルなら追加料金なしhttps://t.co/Ic2VzF1PlY#Bs2022 pic.twitter.com/a9abqfCh6z
— ベースボールLIVE (@baseballlive_JP) September 19, 2022

In his 3189 plate appearances in the NPB, he has 133 home runs, so there is definitely some raw power there as well. The main question is his defense, which has been described as below average.
While his corner outfield profile could certainly help the Jays in 2023, his defense is suspect, and overseas statistics don’t always translate well in Major League Baseball. It also would keep George Springer in centre field, which may not be ideal if the Jays hop to keep him healthy.
Kevin Kiermaier:
Did Kiermaier steal Alejandro Kirk’s gameplan sheet? He sure did. Does that mean the Jays shouldn’t sign him if he accepts the fourth outfielder role? Absolutely not.
The 32-year-old slashed .228/.281/369 with seven homers in  221 plate appearances. The former gold glove winner has a tendency to strike out, as he had a career-high 27.6 K% the past season, with a career K% of 22%. In total, he finished with a wRC+ of 90, slightly below his career average of 97.

IN(KK)REDIBLE pic.twitter.com/pumna1AhTT
— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) April 24, 2022

While it’s arguable that his offense is an upgrade over Raimel Tapia’s, his defense in centre field certainly is. He had a 2 Defensive Runs Saved and a 1 Outs Above Average, which was slightly above average in his 482.1 innings.
While his numbers took a hit in 2022, he did have a 13 DRS in 2021, as well as an 11 OAA in 894.2 innings in centre field. As for his career defensive numbers,  he has an insane 134 D …

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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

BJN Radio – Ep. 119: Dealing with heartbreak

What a strange movie that was.

After getting dominated in Game 1 of the wild-card series by Luis Castillo, the Blue Jays appeared to be running away with Game 2 as they tagged Robbie Ray and had an 8-1 lead in the sixth inning. But things went totally sideways after that, as the Mariners pulled off an epic rally to win the game 10-9 and take the series in a sweep.
We took a look back at the meltdown, where things went wrong, and why there’s no single person to put the blame on. We then looked ahead to the off-season and whether the front office will be prepared to make a big move over the winter.
You can listen to the episode here…
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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Could past chemistry yield current success on the Leafs 4th line?

Could past chemistry yield current success on the Leafs 4th line?

What makes a great forward line? Regardless of which line it is, chemistry is imperative. Understanding strengths, weaknesses, and tendencies will certainly lead to a higher chance of successfully contributing.
It’s difficult to learn these things in training camp, with multiple line combinations being assessed, and players being thrown into different groups, on different wings, and in different scenarios.
Perhaps familiarity is where a coaching staff should start. It’s why we shall see Bunting-Matthews-Marner to start the year. Below them, there are question marks. John Tavares will miss the Leafs opener, which leaves only Nylander as an obvious 2nd liner. Engvall will also miss the opener, leaving yet another hole up front.
Looking at the rest of the forward group, there doesn’t appear to be much familiarity. Kampf is a lock at centre, and the remaining wingers haven’t spent much time, if any, on his line. Dig a little deeper, however, and you might find a couple of new Leafs that have in fact played together.
Zach Aston Reese (ZAR), who is currently on a PTO, went undrafted before attending Northeastern University and played 4 years for the Huskies. During his time in the NCAA, he made the Hockey East All-Star team twice (one 1st Team, and one 2nd Team). He was a Hobey Baker nominee (the most outstanding NCAA Division 1 player), and was voted Hockey East Player of the Year in his senior season.
That same season, Adam Gaudette made the Hockey East All-Star 3rd team and was beginning to forge his own path in the NCAA a …

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Author: Bennett Jull / The Leafs Nation

BJN Radio – Ep. 111: Three of five against the Rays ain’t bad!

What a week.

The Blue Jays won three of five games in their critical series with the Tampa Bay Rays and are now a half-game up on them in the standings.
We looked back at the Tampa gauntlet series and talked about Bo Bichette’s amazing ninth-inning battle, Vladdy Jr. busting out of his slump with his 100th homer, Mitch White coming through with some much-needed innings and where he fits into the team’s plans, and a whole bunch more.
After that, we took a look around the American League and Toronto’s upcoming series with the Baltimore Orioles.
You can listen to the episode here…
POINTSBET IS LIVE IN ONTARIO

 

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

4 burning questions Raptors must answer before the season starts

4 burning questions Raptors must answer before the season starts

The Toronto Raptors are coming into what will end up being one of the most pivotal seasons in franchise history with a roster that is somehow both nearly identical to last year and full of questions, considering how much the conference around them has changed. The Raptors brought back their entire rotation from last year, […]
4 burning questions Raptors must answer before the season starts – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ

What could the Jays do with Ross Stripling?

Ross Stripling is in his final year of his contract. What should the Jays do with him? It’s a brand new series!

Sometimes, contenders will trade their main roster players. It sounds weird, but this literally happened in 2020, when the Dodgers traded the Jays Ross Stripling for two prospects.
I’m split on what the Jays should do with the 32-year-old. One half believes the Jays should do everything to re-sign him. The other half of me thinks they should trade him to a contender for a haul of prospects.
Let’s be real, the Jays making the playoffs is not even close to being guaranteed. While they currently sit two games above the next team for the final wildcard spot, there have been signs that point to the team needing a lot of work.
Despite having “one of the best offenses”, when it goes cold, it’s enough to give you frostbite. Whether it be with the approaches at the plate, incredibly streaky hitters, or too many right handed bats in the lineup, if their bats go cold in the playoffs, they’re done.
Surprisingly, starting pitching has been fine, aside from Jose Berrios and Yusei Kikuchi starts. Berrios has been the better of the two (regardless of ERA), and he’s had some fantastic games. Kikuchi, on the other hand, should be a relief pitcher, as he gets a lot of swings and misses.
Which leads me to my next point – the bullpen. Aside from players who’ve pitched under 10 innings, it really hasn …

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Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation

Dylan Strome could fit with Maple Leafs as reports say he’s approaching free agency

Dylan Strome might be just what the Maple Leafs need this off-season.
NHL teams are beginning to announce who they’re qualifying as the clock bleeds down to the deadline of 5PM ET. One name that’s been out there to not be getting qualified is Strome.

Dylan Strome will not receive a qualifying offer from the Blackhawks, per source. The former No. 3 pick will be a UFA.
Strome averaged nearly a point a game over the second half of the season as the No. 1 center between DeBrincat and Kane. His QO would have been $3.6 million.
— Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) July 11, 2022

Similar to what Toronto did with Ondrej Kase and David Kampf (who was also not qualified by Chicago), they should do the same with the 25-year-old from Mississauga, Ontario.
Now, there’s plenty of reasons this would be a fantastic option for the Maple Leafs — among them is that he’s from the Toronto area. It’s been discussed plenty before that GM Kyle Dubas can capitalize on signing players who are from Ontario, since most grew up dreaming to play on the Maple Leafs.
Strome is just another one from the pack.
Piece that together with the messaging that he could play for a cup contender, possibly have a big role, and be given every opportunity to have success — it’s a great deal for him. Strome can bet on himself and end up getting paid in the future.
On Toronto’s side, this makes a lot of sense because at 25-years-old, he’s just approaching the prime of his career. It’s not like Strome’s totally fell …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation