As you Could’ve Guessed, the Blue Jays are one of the Teams in on Andrew Benintendi

According to Jon Morosi, the Jays are one of the teams looking at the Kansas City Royals’ Andrew Benintendi.

This season, the left fielder is slashing .305/.370/.393 with three homers. He has a low K% of 13.8%, but will also take a walk as his BB% sits at 9.5%. He also has a 120 wRC+ and an fWAR of 1.4, well above replacement level.

The #BlueJays and #Royals are potential trade partners ahead of the Aug. 2 @MLB Trade Deadline. Toronto is among the teams with interest in Andrew Benintendi, and KC has appealing bullpen arms as well. @MLBNetwork
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) June 29, 2022

Defensively, he’s an average defender, as he has a 2 Defensive Runs Saved and 1 Outs Above Average. However, in 2021, he posted a DRS of 7 (the best since his first full two seasons) and an Outs Above Average of 0, his third best season by that metric.
Defensively, he’s a slight upgrade over Loudres Gurriel Jr, and if the Jays were to trade for Benintendi, I could see the two of them platoon.
In fact, I find the two players rather comparable, as Gurriel is slashing .283/.336/.408 with four homers and a wRC+ of 111.
The reason why he’ll be a hot commodity come August 2nd is because Benintendi is in the final year of his contract. The soon to be 28-year-old makes $8,500,000 this season, before hitting the open market after the 2022 season.
Trading for a player with an expiring contract is a double edge sword. On one hand, depending on the prospects they give up, this trade could really hurt in a few years. On the other hand, Benintendi is a significant upgrade over Ramiel Tapia, and is arguably better than Gurriel Jr. 
Along with other additions, trading for Benintendi may be what solidifies the Jays as a contender.
Speaking of other additions, it’s been evident that the Jays need some bullpen help. Thankfully, Morosi notes that the Royals have some bullpen arms that could be of use. Chief among them is Scott Barlow, but you can read about him in Kansas’ addition of Meet the Sellers.
Other bullpen options include Dylan Coleman, Taylor Clarke, and Josh Staumont, all of which would c …

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Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation

Looking back at the Toronto Maple Leafs’ 2019 draft

Over the course of this week, I’ll be looking back at each of the Toronto Maple Leafs’ four draft classes under the tenure of GM Kyle Dubas, reviewing how the selections were viewed at the time, how they have panned out to date, and noting what talent they missed out on (if any) in the immediate picks following.
Today, we continue on by reviewing the 2019 draft class for the Toronto Maple Leafs. This was the first time in nine years that the Leafs did not have a first-round pick, so the pressure was on Toronto’s staff to find some gems with the later picks they did still hold.
Toronto had six picks during the 2019 draft, and while none have become full-time NHLers just yet, we will be getting to the first two prospects that have actually made their NHL debut in today’s article.
2nd Round, 53rd Overall – Nick Robertson, LW, OHL
At the time
Heading into the 2019 draft, Nicholas Robertson was an interesting prospect to keep an eye on. While he was consistently ranked inside the first round by public rankings, including those released by the likes of Craig Button, Sam Cosentino, Chris Peters, Corey Pronman, Cam Robinson, and Scott Wheeler, Robertson’s lack of size meant he was a prime target to fall down draft boards.
T …

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Author: Kyle Cushman / The Leafs Nation

Looking back at the Toronto Maple Leafs’ 2020 draft, Part 2

Over the course of this week, I’ll be looking back at each of the Toronto Maple Leafs’ four draft classes under the tenure of GM Kyle Dubas, reviewing how the selections were viewed at the time, how they have panned out to date, and noting what talent they missed out on (if any) in the immediate picks following.
Today, we continue by taking a look at the rest of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft after reviewing the first six selections Toronto made in yesterday’s look back.
As mentioned in the first part of the 2020 draft look back, the Maple Leafs were active on the trade front during this draft. As such, they held three picks in both the sixth round and eventually the seventh round, which we will take a look at in today’s article.
6th Round, 168th Overall – Veeti Miettinen, RW, Finland U20
At the time
A record scorer at the Finnish U20 level, Veeti Miettinen’s path to eventually play in the NCAA meant he could not play professional games prior to coming over to North America to join St. Cloud State. This meant that despite Miettinen’s dominant performances at the U20 level in Finland leading up to his draft year, he would have to remain at that level if he was to maintain NCAA eligibility.
He aga …

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Author: Kyle Cushman / The Leafs Nation

Looking back at the Toronto Maple Leafs’ 2020 draft, Part 1

Over the course of this week, I’ll be looking back at each of the Toronto Maple Leafs’ four draft classes under the tenure of GM Kyle Dubas, reviewing how the selections were viewed at the time, how they have panned out to date, and noting what talent they missed out on (if any) in the immediate picks following.
Today, we continue by taking a look back at the 2020 NHL Entry Draft. As the Maple Leafs made a whopping 12 (!) selections in that draft, I’ll be splitting this one into two articles, beginning with the first six picks today.
Toronto was active during the 2020 draft, making three trades during Day 2 of the draft to trade up and down the board. Unlike yesterday’s look back at the 2021 draft, we do begin on Day 1 with the first round.
1st Round, 15th Overall – Rodion Amirov, RW, KHL
At the time
While the Leafs did trade their first-round pick to the Carolina Hurricanes in order to shed Patrick Marleau’s cap hit the previous summer, Toronto was able to recoup a first-round pick when they traded Kasperi Kapanen back to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The highest pick the Leafs had held since drafting Auston Matthews first overall in 2016, there was a lot of pressure on Toronto’s staff to hit on the 15th overa …

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Author: Kyle Cushman / The Leafs Nation

Looking back at the Toronto Maple Leafs 2021 draft

Over the course of this week, I’ll be looking back at each of the Toronto Maple Leafs’ four draft classes under the tenure of GM Kyle Dubas, reviewing how the selections were viewed at the time, how they have panned out to date, and noting what talent they missed out on (if any) in the immediate picks following.
Today, we begin with the Maple Leafs’ most recent class, taking a look back at the 2021 NHL Entry Draft. Toronto entered the 2021 draft with only three picks, in the second, fifth, and sixth rounds. Numerous picks had been traded at the deadline and with a lack of draft capital, many expected the Leafs to trade down once or even twice to recoup assets.
Instead, as the picks slowly ticked off the board on Day 2 of the draft leading up to the Maple Leafs’ first selection at 57th overall, they did not trade down. Rather, with a player their scouts were very high on still available, they made the pick.
2nd Round, 57th Overall – Matt Knies, LW, USHL
At the time
When the pick was made, many were surprised first that the Leafs did not trade down, but also that Matt Knies was the selection.
On paper, Knies didn’t fit the characteristics of a typical Toronto dr …

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Author: Kyle Cushman / The Leafs Nation

The Jays have 9 players playing at an all-star level

It’s all-star voting time.

While I personally am looking forward to the draft, which is taking place around the same time, the all-star game experience is a cool time for a lot of fans.
Last season, the Blue Jays sent four all-stars to the mid summer classic, Vladimir Guerrero Jr as a starter, Marcus Semien as a starter, Teoscar Hernandez as a starter, and Bo Bichette.
This season, you could make a case for quite a few more. Let’s look at all of their cases.
Santiago Espinal at second base:
When Marcus Semien left in free agency, it kind of sunk in that no one would produce one of the best seasons a middle infielder ever had. However, Espinal has done a wonderful job playing at an all-star level this season.
This season, the 27-year-old infielder is slashing .288/.344/.444 with 5 homers (a career high) with a wRC+ of 121. Furthermore, he has a K% of 16.3% and a BB% of 7.9%, rather low numbers.

Santiago Espinal – Toronto Blue Jays (5) pic.twitter.com/x4mxDNuLED
— MLB HR Videos (@MLBHRVideos) June 7, 2022

This doesn’t even factor in his defense, which is some of the best in the major leagues. His Defensive Runs Saved of 4 is the 6th best, only behind Jonathan Schoop, Gleyber Torres and Trevor Story in the American League.
Espinal’s Outs Above Average of 6 sits second in the major leagues, only trailing Schoop who sits at… 11. Holy crap. While Schoop is on his way to winning the Gold Glove, Espinal is no slouch in that department.

Pas encore d’attaque mais La Défense bien présente avec Espinal pic.twitter.com/b0e8SmDSBS
— Blue Jays FR (35-24) (@MLB_BlueJaysFR) May 2, 2022

Factoring in both offense and defense, Espinal’s fWAR of 1.9 ranks tied for 3rd in the league, trailing just T …

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Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation

3 UFAs the Maple Leafs shouldn’t pursue this off-season

Looking at the number of signings the Maple Leafs could make this off-season, there’s a lot of interesting ways this summer could go.
If Toronto wanted to, they could move on from Jake Muzzin and Petr Mrazek to create a considerable amount of cap space. While a chunk of it might go to a goaltender or two, there still could be a bit left to play around with after.
Muzzin’s situation is tougher at the moment because he has a no-trade clause until July 1, 2023. So, if Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas found a suitor for a trade, the 33-year-old would have to say “yes” for it to happen.
But let’s say it becomes a reality — Toronto moves Muzzin and they buyout Petr Mrazek — which UFAs should the Maple Leafs avoid?
1. Marc-Andre Fleury
Going into the trade deadline earlier this season, there was a situation that might have seen Fleury in the blue-and-white. It ultimately fell through before talks became serious, but the 37-year-old is now a UFA.
Fleury, this past season, was 14th in save percentage this season (.908 in 56GP) and had the most expensive cap hit among all goaltenders becoming a UFA on July 13th. And in what might be his final season in the NHL, the 37-year-old might go for one more payday.
What makes me turn away from him is his age and his durability. At 37, there can be a …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

Maple Leafs changed a few narratives in their Game 5 win against Tampa, now they have to change the one that matters the most

It was looking like it was going to be another one of those nights. If you are a frequent reader of this site, you know the feeling.
The Toronto Maple Leafs allowed two goals on the first four shots of the game, but erased that deficit with tallies from John Tavares, Morgan Rielly, William Nylander and John Tavares as they defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-3 take a 3-2 series lead in their first-round series.
Through the first four games between these clubs, the team that scored first had gone on to win each game. There were also no lead changes in any of those games.
So when the Lightning scored a pair of early goals from Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman, things looked pretty grim for Toronto.
They went into the intermission down 2-0 and were badly outplayed in the first 20 minutes. They were outshot 14–4 and Tampa had a 78 percent of the 5-on-5 score-and-venue adjusted expected goals share of 78 percent per NaturalStatTrick.com.
That’s when Jason Spezza took it upon himself to deliver a speech to players in the dressing room to help lift his team’s spirit.
“More along the words that it wasn’t good enough,” Nylander paraphrased of Spezza’s message. “We just need to get going and battling and skating.”
It wa …

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Author: David Alter / The Leafs Nation

Leafs send Alex Biega to Nashville

Not exactly the breaking news anyone is looking for, but Alex Biega is on the move.

Biega to Nashville.
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) March 21, 2022

The Leafs seemed like they were looking to move some of the Marlies defensemen, namely Menell and Duszak, but those deals are yet to materialize.
The return on Biega still isn’t known, but it is likely this move is about freeing up a contract space as the Leafs were getting close to the 50 max. That could prevent them from signing either Matthew Knies or Nick Abruzesse once their NCAA seasons come to a close. Or you know, they might be trying to make other deals today.
If you are expecting more than Future Considerations or a conditional seventh, prepare to be disappointed.
Biega played two games for the Leafs and was a -2 in those games. He averaged 13 minutes a night.
Goodbye Alex Biega. We’ll always remember that you were briefly here.
UPDATE:
It’s now being reported that it is indeed future considerations that the Leafs are receiving for Biega. I’d still say they came out on top in this move.

**Breaking News**
Alex Biega to @PredsNHL from @MapleLeafs for Future Considerations. @espn @NHLNetwork @TSNHockey #HockeyTwitter
— Kevin Weekes (@KevinWeekes) March 21, 2022


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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Should the Blue Jays sign Michael Conforto?

It’s safe to say that the Blue Jays are looking to acquire a left handed hitting outfielder. 

There were reports that they were looking into both Kyle Schwarber and Eddie Rosario. Furthermore, former Blue Jay, Corey Dickerson also fit that bill, but he signed with the Cardinals a few days ago.
Joc Pederson, who is not a French Canadian, also signed elsewhere, leaving the Blue Jays options thin in terms of signable players that fit their needs. The one big named player left is Michael Conforto.
His bat: 
Of course, we’ll split this into two sections, his bat and his defense. Unlike Ketel Marte’s article, there isn’t much to talk about when it comes to Conforto’s defense. I’m getting ahead of myself though.
Conforto’s best seasons:
Aside from being a human being, Conforto is a 29-year-old corner outfielder who bats left handed, one of the Blue Jays’ most pressing needs. In his 2980 plate appearances, he has hit 132 dingers and has a career slash line of .255/.356/.824. He has a career walk rate of 12.3% with a career strikeout rate of 23.8%.
His best seasons came between 2017 and 2020, where he slashed .265/.369/.864 where he posted 97 of his 132 home runs in 1959 plate appearances. He had a K% of 24.4% with a BB% of 12.7%, a pretty solid rate considering the amount of home runs he hit.
His best season in terms of wRC+ (excluding the COVID-shortened 2020) was in 2017, where he posted a wRC+ of 147 in his 440 plate appearances. This included 27 homers while slashing .279/.384/.939. Conforto also had a notable 2019, where he slashed .257/.363/.856, but hit a career high 33 …

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Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation