Mike Clevinger’s contract with the White Sox further indicates an expensive free-agent market this winter

After a lull in the baseball world over the past week, we got a pair of signings on Sunday and Monday, as Jose Abreu inked a multi-year contract with the Houston Astros and Mike Clevinger inked a show-me deal with the Chicago White Sox.

This flurry of moves sees the White Sox move on from Abreu, who slashed a .292/.354/.506 line with the team over the course of nine seasons, and add a reclamation project to their starting rotation. Clevinger was moved in a big trade from Cleveland to the San Diego Padres during the 2020 season. He made just four starts with the team and underwent Tommy John surgery and then missed the entirety of the 2021 season.
In his first year back from Tommy John, Clevinger posted a 4.33 ERA over the course of 114 1/3 innings. His fastball velocity hovered around 93.5 miles per hour, a noticeable drop from where it was during his successful seasons in Cleveland. As a result, his strikeout rate dipped to 18.8% in 2022 compared to 27.5% in 2020 and 22.6% in 2019.
Now, why does any of this matter? Because Clevinger’s contract, which has $12 million guaranteed, further indicates just how expensive this winter’s free-agent market is going to be…

$12M is more than I e …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Checking in on Blue Jays players playing in the Dominican Winter League

The great thing about baseball is that it’s a year round sport, even if Major League Baseball ends in a week.

The Dominican Winter League (LIDOM) and Mexican Pacific Winter League are in full swing now, so how are Jays players doing for their respective teams? Let’s look at a former top 100 prospect to begin.
Nate Pearson:
After pitching in the big leagues in 2020 and 2021, Nate Pearson missed all of the 2022 season. First by contracting mononucleosis, then suffering a lat strain in a rehab game. The story of his career thus far has been injuries, but unlucky injuries. No better example of this than getting hit with a comebacker at the start of the 2018 minor league season, which broke his ulna (forearm).
To get innings, Pearson headed to the Dominican Republic to play for the Tigres de Licey. In his five innings, he hasn’t allowed an earned run, while owning a 25 K% and a 6.25 BB%. Pearson has been used mainly as a high-leverage reliever which is a good sign.
I think as the years go by, his ceiling leans more toward a high-leverage reliever, rather than a starter or a bulk reliever. Although some may argue that Pearson becoming a reliever may “lessen” his value, having a guy throwing 100 mph out of the bullpen is super important.
It will be interesting to see the organization’s plan for the 26-year-old righty heading into his eighth season with the team.
Rainer Nunez:
Rainer Nunez is the only other Blue …

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Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation

Should Blue Jays expect power resurgence from Lourdes Gurriel Jr. in 2023?

Baseball can often produce an unexplainable outcome, leaving many to wonder why it occurred in the first place. The Toronto Blue Jays, who endured a season of extremes in 2022, are likely to ponder that question involving Lourdes Gurriel Jr.’s bizarre offensive performance this winter.
Gurriel had been known for his power through his first four big-league campaigns, slugging .492 with 63 home runs across 347 career games. But then, unexpectedly, the 29-year-old experienced a sudden power outage this past season and couldn’t replicate any of his previous career marks. 
As a result, the 6-foot-4 right-hander posted career lows in home runs (five), slugging percentage (.400) and isolated power (.108) over 493 plate appearances in 121 contests. He still enjoyed a productive showing, however, hitting for more contact (.291 AVG, .346 BABIP) and producing a 114 wRC+ score – seven points higher than last season’s mark (107). His strikeout rate (16.8 per cent) was also much improved, producing a career-best clip.
Those were all positive developments for Gurriel and the Blue Jays, though the reason behind his slugging metrics declining remained unclear. But perhaps it was caused by an injury. After the season, the team revealed that the veteran outfielder underwent surgery on his left hand to repair his hamate bone, which had previously gone undiagnosed until earlier this month.
While speaking to reporters during his end-of-season …

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Author: Thomas Hall / Blue Jays Nation

Blue Jays blow 8-1 lead, drop heartbreaker to the Mariners to end the season

Baseball (and all sports, honestly) are filled with highs and lows.
Just a week ago, the Blue Jays were celebrating a playoff berth in their clubhouse with nothing but good vibes. Now, their season is over, after suffering a 10-9 loss at the hands of the Seattle Mariners this afternoon. This was a game that the Blue Jays once led 8-1, but Seattle chipped away with one hit after another, tying the game in the 8th inning, and taking the lead in the 9th against Jordan Romano.
This game was very symbolic of the Blue Jays’ season; a rollercoaster ride of highs and lows. There were way too many storylines from this game alone, so here it goes, piece by piece…
The Blue Jays Jump Ahead
Robbie Ray was simply owned by Toronto’s offense, mainly Teoscar Hernandez. After an impressive 1st inning, Ray began to allow a spree of hard contact, starting with Alejandro Kirk. If anyone knew how to attack Ray coming into today, it would’ve surely been Kirk, who was Ray’s personal catcher last season. Kirk laced a double down the left field line, setting up Hernandez, who launched a two-run blast into the left field seats.
Ironically enough, the ESPN broadcast was discussing how Ray can really unravel if he leaves his f …

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Author: Evan Stack / Blue Jays Nation

Blue Jays clinch home-field advantage in the wild-card series as Seattle loses to Detroit

Playoff baseball is returning to Toronto.

The Blue Jays came into play on Monday with their magic number for clinching the top wild-card spot in the American League down to two. A 5-1 win over the Baltimore Orioles pushed that number to one and then the Blue Jays clinched as the Seattle Mariners lost by a score of 4-3 to the Detroit Tigers.
With home-field advantage locked up, the Blue Jays can now take it easy during their final two games of the season in Baltimore and give their regular players some time to rest. Mitch White is lined up to start against the O’s on Tuesday and Wednesday’s game is listed as TBA, though Yusei Kikuchi seems to be the likely candidate to start.
The only thing left to determine is who the Blue Jays will be hosting this weekend. The Tampa Bay Rays also lost on Monday so they remain a game-and-a-half back of the Mariners in the standings. Seattle has three more games left against the Tigers, including a doubleheader on Tuesday, while the Rays have two games left against the Boston Red Sox. Tampa also owns the tiebreaker between the two teams based on head-to-head record.
This weekend’s wild-card series will be Toronto’s first taste of playoff baseball at home since 2 …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Weekend Rambling: The 2023 Offence

Am I the only one who thinks it’s weird that baseball doesn’t have an ideal term for the non-pitcher part of the roster? You can say “the fielders” but there’s also a DH, you can say “the lineup” but there are bench players, you can say “the offence” but almost every player has to be considered on the defensive spectrum as well. Anyway, you get the idea.

As the third and final installment of this mini-series, this one has a lot of just stating the obvious, the same way I did with the top three starting pitchers, but also a maybe surprising amount of caveats and qualifications to anything that you might want to firmly declare. But we need a starting place, so let me go with this: while this offense could certainly use some tweaks and no team, particularly a contender, simply rolls over the same basic roster from one season to the next, let’s not misunderstand a core truth here – this team is GOOD.
As a group, you can look at both team results and also go position by position. While it’s true that offence is down some from the year before in many cases, it is like that across the league (T …

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Author: Tammy Rainey / Blue Jays Nation

The Blue Jays Fired Charlie Montoyo. Now What?

If turning around a struggling baseball team was as easy as firing your manager, there would be a constant cycle of middle-aged baseball dudes getting laid off weekly. But it rarely is that easy, and thus despite the Blue Jays firing Charlie Montoyo yesterday, a lot of work remains to be done in order to turn this team into one that not only will make the playoffs, but will be built to go on a deep run in October.

It is impossible to tell if replacing Montoyo with John Schneider will have any impact on how the players perform, but it became clear yesterday just how important of a first step it was to getting this team on the right track. From the first reports that were trickling out of the US, to this excellent piece from The Athletic’s Kaitlyn McGrath, Montoyo had clearly lost the confidence of his team, and once that happens, a move needs to be made. (Ironically, all arguments I saw and contributed to pre-firing assumed Montoyo was well-liked by the team. Once that assumption was thrown out the window, the argument for making a change became much simpler).
Now, after taking responsibility for where the club is in the standings at this point in the season yesterday, the task Ross Atkins has ahead of him is to identify the faults in this team and address them. It’s a tricky situation to navigate because if you’ve been watching the Blue Jays closely this year, you might identify many issues plaguing this team. In reality, though, I believe the issues are actually pretty simple. 
Despite what many might think, the Blue Jays’ offense is more or less fine. They’ve been the fifth-best team in baseball according to wRC+ this season in the aggregate. Their issues offensively have more to do with being inconsistent – which I don’t think is something you can ever avoid in baseball – and an inability to hit in high leverage spots.
That last point has been a thorn in their side since the beginning of 2021, and there have been many theories floating out there, from a lack of “clutch” – which would …

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Author: Gideon Turk / Blue Jays Nation