Blue Jays sign 18 international free agents

On January 17th, the Toronto Blue Jays announced 18 (soon to be 21) new signings through international free agency. Their names are listed below…

Jonathan Bautista (Outfielder)
Kendry Chirinos (Third Baseman)
Aneudis Escanio (Shortstop)
Jose Fernandez (Shortstop)
Eninems Flores (Right Handed Pitcher)
Raudy Gomez (Right Handed Pitcher)
Ivan Gonzalez (Right Handed Pitcher)
Jorge Guerra (Right Handed Pitcher)
Jean Joseph (Center Fielder)
Ali Lucena (Outfielder)
Carlos Meza (Right Handed Pitcher)
Luis Meza (Catcher) 
Albert Millan (Catcher)
Fernando Perez (Right Handed Pitcher)
Omar Romero (Shortstop)
Railin Tejada (Outfielder)
Luis Torres (Left Handed Pitcher)
Carlos Vasquez (Catcher)
Recently, I wrote an article on Luis Meza, but despite the Blue Jays post announcing that there are 18 signings – there are actually more. According to Sportrac, the Jays have also signed catcher Frauk de la Cruz and shortstop Darlin de Leon.
According to reporter Francys Romero, the Blue Jays have also signed 16-year-old catcher Maikel Minoso. If that last name Minoso sounds familiar, that is because Maikel has relations to hall of famer Minnie Minoso.

Cuban C Maikel Miñoso (16) officially signs with the Toronto Blue Jays. He trained at Y.P. Academy and is a family of “Minnie” Miñoso.Bonus deal: $ 20,000. pic.twitter.com/KsuwQYzOHk
— Francys Romero (@francysromeroFR) January 17, 2022

They are surely going to be more IFA signings in the future, so stay tuned!
As always, you can follow me on Twitter @Brennan_L_D …

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Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation

Blue Jays sign International Free Agent catcher Luis Meza

Baseball news is back. Sadly, the lockout hasn’t ended, but regardless, there is still news!

On January 15th, it was announced that the Toronto Blue Jays signed right-handed batter Luis Meza, a 17-year-old catcher from Venezuela. The young lad signed for a bonus of 2.25 million, which accounts for 48.44% of the Jays international bonus pool of 4,644,000.
According to a scouting report that Shi Davidi received, Mesa is an advanced, two-way catcher, who has a loose swing and understands the strike zone well. He has offensive upside, but has a good arm and can “really catch”.

This is the scouting report I got on Meza: Really advanced, two-way catcher, good hitter with loose swing and strong feel for the strike zone, can really catch and throw with offensive upside.
— Shi Davidi (@ShiDavidi) January 15, 2022

According to MLB Pipeline, he has above average receiving skills, as well as impressive blocking skills. Meza also has a high baseball IQ, meaning he reads the game well, especially for a teenager. Luis will continue to grow into his frame, which could lead to more power generated from his bat. Furthermore, he has the ability to barrel the ball and uses all parts of the field. 
The young Venezuelan is ranked as the 33rd best available international free agent. Below are his five tool grades, 20 being the worst, 80 being the best.
Hit: 50
Power: 50
Run: 45 (Editor’s note, that’s a catcher with a 45 run tool, that is crazy)
Arm: 50
Field: 55
Overall: 50
While the scouting report remains relatively the same as Pipeline’s and Davidi’s, Baseball America is far more generous. While MLB Pipeline ranks Luis Meza as the 33rd best …

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Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation

Lockout update! Digging into MLB’s first proposal, why the Players’ Association declined, and what’s next

It isn’t much, but, at the very least, we have something to talk about.

On Thursday, Major League Baseball presented its first labour-related proposal to the Players’ Association since the beginning of the lockout, ending what had been a 43-day stalemate.
Unfortunately (and, well, unsurprisingly) it was a very one-sided offer, one that Jeff Passan of ESPN said “did little to encourage the players and heightened the likelihood of spring training being postponed.” The meeting, which reportedly took place over the span of one hour, consisted of MLB presenting its proposal and the players agreeing to present an official counter-proposal at an unspecified time in the future.
Here’s a quick run-down of what the league presented in its offer…
A lottery for the top pick in the draft. The worst three teams are in the lottery and the winner gets the top draft pick. Also, to address tanking, teams wouldn’t be allowed in the lottery for three consecutive years. The PA has also been in favour of a lottery, but they want it expanded to eight teams to further dissuade tanking.
A draft for international players. This would scrap the current system that features an international free-agent signing window and a bonus pool system in which teams can only offer international players a certain amount of money.
An expanded post-season bracket. MLB wants to expand the playoffs to involve 14 teams, a significant jump from the current 10-team format. The players have said they’re will …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Coming off miserable 2021, Michael Conforto could be a perfect match for Blue Jays

After winning the George Springer sweepstakes last off-season, the Toronto Blue Jays may find themselves in a similar position this winter where they possess a chance to dramatically improve their outfield through free agency.
But will the front office ultimately take that option whenever this current lockout ends? Only time will tell.
As currently constructed, Toronto’s outfield at the major league level is set to feature Springer, Teoscar Hernandez, Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and Randal Grichuk next season. While that’s a suitable group to open the year with, however, there’s no question this organization could benefit from making an upgrade.
Looking to the free-agent market, outfielder Michael Conforto is someone who should immediately jump off the page, especially given his seven seasons of major league experience. Along with serving as a veteran presence, the 28-year-old would also check several boxes off on the Blue Jays’ wish list, starting with his left-handedness.
It’s no secret this organization needs a reliable left-handed hitter, and even though Conforto is nearing his age-30 season, inching closer to that threshold likely wouldn’t prevent him from balancing out this team’s offence in …

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Author: Thomas Hall / Blue Jays Nation

Comparing starting rotations in the American League East

Let’s be real here, the lockout sucks. What else is there to do other than pray that the two sides can get together and figure it out?

Well for me, I can start a nice little debate about the best players in the American League East. We’ll start with which AL East team has the best rotation.

Baltimore Orioles:
The Baltimore Orioles are not good. The Bad Birds of the AL East finished the 2021 season with a record of 52-110, which landed them the first overall pick in the 2022 MLB draft. The team’s one bright spot for starting pitching came by means of a starting pitcher named John Means (pun intended). 
The former 11th round pick pitched 146.2 innings and registered an ERA of 3.62 and an ERA+ of 126. Means also registered a FIP of 4.62, so his independent numbers are slightly worse. However, Means had a K/9 of 8.2 with a BB/9 of 1.6, which are solid numbers. The 28-year-old is under Oriole control until the end of the 2024 season.
The Orange Birds also signed 31-year-old Jordan Lyles to a one-year, 7 million dollar contract before the lockout. For the past two seasons, he played for the Texas Rangers and had an ERA of 7.02 in 2020 and 5.15 in 2021. The Orioles are hoping that he regains his 2018/2019 form where he posted a 4.11 ERA and a 4.15 ERA.
The Orioles have the second smallest payroll, with only $29,416,666 dedicated to the 2022 roster. They have the money to spend, but due to their rebuild, it’s unlikely that they will add anyone of note.
Boston Red Sox:
From the second-lowest payroll to the sixth-highest payroll, the Boston Red Sox unsurprisingly have a better batch of starting pitchers than the O’s.
The most notable of which is 32-year-old Chris Sale. The hard throwing lefty missed all of the 2020 season as well as the majority of the 2021 due to Tommy John Surgery. Despite that, he put up sol …

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Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation

The Changes Teoscar Hernández Made and Why He Can Exceed His Projections

The Blue Jays ZiPS projections came out over at FanGraphs this week, and the Blue Jays project as one of the best teams in the league. Vladdy and Bo project to have star level seasons. The rotation looks to be very strong and the bullpen much improved from where it was last season. The one projection that stood out was that of Teoscar Hernández.

ZiPS projects Teo to hit .268/.324/.505 and be worth 1.8 WAR. That would be a strong offensive season, ZiPS sees it as 121 OPS+, but it would be a large step down from the .295/.345/.538 he has hit over the last two seasons. 1.8 WAR is a fine season but it would be disappointing for Hernández, coming off of a 3.9 WAR season in 2021. In the article Dan Szymborski writes “Teoscar Hernández projects to regress a bit BABIP-wise, but his power still makes him a comfortable plug-and-play cleanup hitter, though I’d personally prefer that he hit third since that’s the lineup spot that leads off the fewest innings.” We can debate line-up positions all you want, but Teo is much more than just a plug and play option for the Blue Jays. He is one of the key pieces of this line-up.
ZiPS projects Teo to have a .320 BABIP which is above average but again down significantly from the .348 mark in 2020, and the .352 mark in 2021. What ZiPS might be missing or slow to account for is the c …

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Author: Paul Berthelot / Blue Jays Nation

BJN Radio – Ep. 59: How are the owners and players going to find a middle ground?

We’re stuck in the dog days of winter without any good news.

Major League Baseball and the Players’ Association haven’t met since the lockout started at the beginning of December and it doesn’t appear as though they have any plans to do so in the coming days. The Blue Jays have told their players not to rush to make accommodation plans for spring training in Florida, so it’s safe to assume there won’t be a resolution to this battle anytime soon.
For our first podcast of 2022, we took a look at how the owners and the players could find a middle ground on the major labour issues that have led to this lockout. We looked into free agency, control years, the playoff format, and even into the wet and wild world of relegation! We then tried to get some positive vibes in the mix by looking back at our favourite moments from 2021.
You can listen to the episode here…

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

The starting rotation? Or the bullpen? Where should Nate Pearson begin next season?

Following another disappointing season, the 2022 campaign is set to serve as a potential career-defining year for pitcher Nate Pearson, whether that be as a starter or a reliever.
Ever since being selected in the first round of the 2017 MLB Draft, Pearson has been viewed as one of the top rising arms within the Toronto Blue Jays’ farm system, unfortunately, he’s been unable to deliver on those high expectations thus far.
Sadly, injuries have served as the 25-year-old’s biggest obstacle through his first five professional seasons, limiting him to just 187.0 innings across six levels during that span. In particular, a sports hernia – which required surgery this off-season – plagued the 6’6″ hurler throughout last season, preventing him from completing more than 45 2/3 innings between triple-A and the majors.
While Pearson is expected to be ready for the start of spring training, assuming it doesn’t get delayed, his current role with the organization remains uncertain and will likely need to be determined in the spring, at least, in the short term.
In speaking with the media at the end of the 2021 season, general manager Ross Atkins admitted the front office viewed Pearson as more of an “extended outing arm” heading into …

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Author: Thomas Hall / Blue Jays Nation

The Blue Jays have signed Gosuke Katoh to a minor-league deal

This was first reported a few weeks ago, but there’s nothing going on as we trudge through the lockout, so we might as well talk about it again.

The Blue Jays announced on Tuesday that they’ve signed utility guy Gosuke Katoh to a minor-league deal with an invitation to spring training.
Katoh was originally selected by the New York Yankees in the second round of the 2013 draft. He spent seven years in New York’s system before getting let go. He signed a minor-league deal with the San Diego Padres and had a solid season for the organization’s Triple-A affiliate in El Paso.
Over 114 games in 2021, Katoh slashed a .306/.388/.474 line with eight home runs and 27 doubles. He walked 46 times while striking out 84 times.
Gatoh is a left-handed hitter, something the Blue Jays badly need, and he can play first, second, and third base as well and left and right field, so he profiles nicely as the kind of player who can fill a come off of the bench in a pinch.

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

What might a trade for Jose Ramirez look like?

Jose Ramirez is the best third baseman in baseball.

Since 2016 only Mookie Betts and Mike Trout have been able to produce a higher fWAR. His strikeout rate has averaged only 14.7% in his career while his walk percentage has been at 12.0%. In that same span JRam (great nickname) has put up a 135 wRC+ with his fantastic defence at third. He’s not a free agent until after the 2023 season and he’s on an incredibly cheap deal (12 million dollars in 2022 and 14 million dollars in 2023).
By now you should know just how great of a player Jose Ramirez is. And how much better he will make the Blue Jays. Here we go.
The Cost
The Blue Jays front office is extremely good at evaluating players within their organization. So when trying to figure out who we should give up and who we should hold onto, remember that the situation is in safe hands. Ross Atkins and Co. will not do anything they are not comfortable with. And when the front office is comfortable, you should be comfortable as well.
Let’s look at the major league talent that the Blue Jays have to offer…
Lourdes Gurriel Jr.
First up is Lourdes Gurriel …

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Author: Lewis Foster / Blue Jays Nation