News and Notes: The Minnesota Twins are interested in A.J. Pollock, Blue Jays sign an intriguing hard-throwing relief pitcher, and more!

I’m running out of good intros for the News and Notes articles. So here’s a News and Notes article to start off your day.

There isn’t a lot of Blue Jays-related news or rumours, but there are some rumblings of teams looking to trade players the Jays could be interested in. Let’s start with the Jays’ news first.
Julián Fernández:
Here’s the skinny: The Jays signed a 27-year-old righty who touches 103 mph with a great out pitch in his changeup. Despite his 6.63 ERA and 7 FIP in 57 innings pitched in Triple-A, which also saw home run issues and command issues, this signing has a possibility to be really good for the Jays.

#BlueJays are signing hard-throwing RHP Julian Fernández to a minor-lg deal per source. 27-yr-old reliever spent ‘22 at AAA Albuquerque & battled HR issues. Pitched in majors for ’21 Rockies, averaging 99 mph on FB. Topped out at 103. Recently pitched in Dominican Winter League
— Ben Nicholson-Smith (@bnicholsonsmith) December 29, 2022

Fernández is an intriguing reliever, and our very own Cam Lewis went more in-depth in this article here. You can also read my deep dive on why he has the tools to become an elite reliever here.
Yosver Zulueta gets an MLB.com nod:
Speaking of Blue Jays pitchers that throw hard, Cuban-born Yosver Zulueta was featured in MLB.com’s article featuring which prospects they’re excited to see debut in 2023.
If you’ve read any of my prospect articles, you know I’m pretty high on Zulueta as he sits in the high-90s (and touches over 100 mph) as a starter, while flashing plus or average secondary pitches.

Zulueta just fanned his first runner throwing…
100 mph!!!!!!#BlueJays #NextLevel pic.twitter.com/RjpNT5v6Jl
— Brennan Delaney (@Brennan_L_D) July 7, 2022

While his strikeout rate was high, so too was his walk rate. However, this is to be expected as he hadn’t really pitched competitively since 2019 due to the plague …

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Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation

News and Notes: Kevin Kiermaier speaks for the first time as a Blue Jay, the Jays have interest in Johnny Cueto, and more!

It’s time for a News and Notes; this time, it’s more Blue Jays-centric!

We finally have the details of Kevin Kiermaier’s contract and some spicy sound bites. It also seems that the Jays aren’t finished signing starting pitchers either.
Let’s hop right into it!
Kevin Kiermaier:
It had nearly been a week since it was announced that the Jays were signing Kiermaier, but on Wednesday it was announced that Kiermaier signed a one-year, $9,000,000 contract.

Former #Rays CF Kevin Kiermaier’s deal with #BlueJays is for 1 year, $9M
— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) December 14, 2022

For his career, Kiermaier has slashed .248/.308/.407 with 82 homers in 3351 plate appearances for a 97 wRC+. He struggled offensively in his 221 plate appearances but had a 101 wRC+ in 122 games in 2021.
While there’s a little bit to be desired with the bat, Kiermaier excels defensively. For his career, he has a 134 Defensive Runs Saved and a 64 Outs Above Average, with the latter being created a season after his fantastic 38 DRS season in 2015.
Kiermaier press conference:
Apparently, Kiermaier will be the Jays’ everyday centre fielder.

#BlueJays have told Kevin Kiermaier he’s the everyday CF in 2023, adding there’s been no talks of platooning.”It’s my job to lose.”Career OPS/wRC+ vs LHP and RHP: .662/84 and .735/102.
— Scott Mitchell (@ScottyMitchTSN) December 15, 2022

 
I’ve seen many, many people misconstrue this as “Kiermaier is Teoscar Hernández’s replacement”, which isn’t true in the slightest.
Kiermaier may very well push George Springer to right field, but that doesn’t mean that the Jays won’t be in the market to add another left-handed batting corner outfielder. It wouldn’t be surprising if they still want to use Springer as a designated hitter, meaning the signing of Joey Gallo, Michael Conforto, Michael Brantley, or Andrew Benintendi makes sense.
Not just that, but I’m sure that the Jays are aware of Kiermaier’s injury pa …

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Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation

News and Notes: Joe Siddall suggests the Blue Jays could trade two catchers, Ross Atkins speaks, and more!

News and Notes time, as we’re slowly approaching the Winter Meetings.

“Slowly approaching” feels like an understatement, as the past month has just been filled with speculation and empty rumours, but we’re almost there. Let’s look at some things boiling on the hot stove.
Why just trade one catcher, why not two:
It’s pretty well known that the Jays are expected to trade a catcher before the start of the 2023 season. While it’s also been noted that they’re okay with carrying three if a trade doesn’t materialize, they have a surplus of three really good catchers, so a trade will probably happen.
Sportsnet’s Joe Siddall takes it one step further and suggests that instead of trading one catcher, trade two and sign a veteran.

#MLB winter meetings next week… #BlueJays expected to move a C (area of depth)…thinking outside the box…how about trading 2 C’s?…& sign FA christian vazquez…vaz catches primarily, kirk C & dh…using jansen/moreno to acquire needs (sp/rp, cf)..rest is done via FA
— Joe Siddall (@SiddallJoe) December 1, 2022

 
Siddall, who played the backstop in the Majors knows what he’s talking about, but this may be too extreme. Defensively, Vázquez is an upgrade over Jansen, but except for in 2019 when he hit 23 homers, he never had over 10. Over his career, he is a 84 wRC+ hitter as well, but he’s a perfect fit for a backup catcher.
Once you factor in that he’s been the backstop for two World Series winners, and yeah, Vázquez is definitely an interesting free agent, but it doesn’t seem likely the Jays will sign a catcher for the main roster
This is speculation on my behalf, but it seems likely to me that they’d trade for a starter with team control while signing a left-handed batting outfielder. More on this later, though.
Nathan Eovaldi:
Jim Bowden of The Athletic paired former Red Sox Nathan Eovaldi with the Toronto Blue Jays, speculating that he’d sign a four-year, $90,000,000 deal with the team. The s …

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Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation

Off-season News and Notes: Anthony Bass’ option picked up, Blue Jays interested in a Ross Stripling reunion, and more!

The transaction news is coming fast and curious as we come ever so close to Thursday’s opening of free agency.

We all love transaction news, right? Well, on Tuesday evening, the news came fast and furious. Let’s look at the obvious news before looking at the more surprising news.
Anthony Bass:
As expected, the Jays have exercised their team option worth $3,000,000 on reliever Anthony Bass’ contract. The 35-year-old reliever was picked up in a deadline deal trade along with reliever Zach Pop and prospect Edward Duran. Going the other way to the Miami Marlins was former first-rounder Jordan Groshans.

#BlueJays plan to exercise Anthony Bass’s 2023 option this week as expected
— Ben Nicholson-Smith (@bnicholsonsmith) November 8, 2022

Bass posted a 1.54 ERA and 3 FIP in 70.1 innings pitched between the Jays and the Marlins. He also had a 26.5 K%, the highest in his career, and well above his 18.8% average for the statistic.
With the Jays, Bass had a 1.75 ERA and 4.63 FIP in 25.2 innings pitched. His K% jumped to 27.5%, while he still had a solid, albeit a bit high, BB% of 9.8%.
This was a pretty obvious move to make, as Bass is an important part of the bullpen.
Ross Stripling:
Another pretty obvious piece of news that was dropped, but the Jays have been in contact with the 32-year-old and are interested in bringing him back. He posted a 3.01 ERA and 3.11 FIP in 134.1 innings pitched this season.
I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that if not for Stripling and what he provided in 2022, the Jays may not have made the playoffs. Originally penned as the swingman, Ross broke out as the Jays’ #3 in the rotation. A big reason for this was because of an improved changeup.

#BlueJays have been in touch with Ross Stripling & expressed interest in bringing him back
Ja …

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Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation

Around the Atlantic: Montreal picks first, Ottawa lands a superstar and Dubas cuts cap

It has been a heavy news week in the Atlantic division largely due to the NHL draft but there have also been several trades, some depth players re-signing, and new coaches hired. With free agency set to begin on July 13th rumours continue to swirl and teams are scrambling to lock up their guys before they hit the open market.
NHL Draft
Plenty of Atlantic division teams made massive moves on draft night. The Montreal Canadiens had the first pick, but it was the Ottawa Senators who acquired the best player. Prior to the draft, Ottawa traded their seventh overall selection, a second-round pick, and a fourth-round pick in 2024 to the Chicago Blackhawks for star winger Alex Debrincat. A two-time 40 goal scorer and only 24 years of age, Debrincat joins an Ottawa team already stacked with young talent. He is expected to play alongside 2020 third overall pick Tim Stutzle.
The Montreal Canadiens acquired a young Chicago Blackhawk as well. After they made Slovakian winger Juraj Slafkovsky the first overall pick, general manager Kent Hughes traded Alexander Romanov and pick 98 to the New York Islanders for pick 13. They quickly flipped that pick with pick 66 to Chicago for Kirby Dach. Chicago selected Dach third overall in 2019 but he …

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Author: Scott Ony / The Leafs Nation

Actual picks, newfound cap space, and goalie woes headline day two of the draft for the Leafs

First the bad news, the Leafs once again end the first day of the draft without making a selection. The good news is the Leafs did end the first day without Petr Mrazek and freed up $3.8M in cap space. They’ll also still be picking 38th overall and have the opportunity to select a first round caliber player who just didn’t quite make the cut. It’s not a bad piece of business by Kyle Dubas and the Leafs, but the Petr Mrazek situation still leaves a bitter taste in my mouth, but that could just be from wanting the immediate payoff of a first round pick last night. 

Based on the pick value model I’ve been using for the last few years, the difference in value between pick 25 and 38 is equivalent to a late 7th.
So the Leafs paid roughly a 7th to offload Mrazek’s $3.8m cap hit with 2 years remaining. https://t.co/mNCbd2AMKq
— Earl Schwartz (@EarlSchwartz27) July 8, 2022

After trading Mrazek ($3.8M), #leafsforever have $10.2M Cap Space with 17 Players (10F/6D/1G) on Projected Roster.
RFA: Engvall, Kase, SandinUFA: Blackwell, Mikheyev, Lyubushkin, Campbellhttps://t.co/hB3guL96pk
— PuckPedia (@PuckPedia) July 8, 2022

The Leafs cap situation is now revised to see the Leafs sitting with about $12.6M in space (we won’t gift Kallgren, Abruzzese, or Clifford roster spots just yet) to fill 4-5 forward positions, including Pierre Engvall, one defensive position (Rasmus Sandin), and two NHL goaltenders. That is still pretty tight even if the Leafs primarily need bottom six forwards, a cheap backup, and two should be reasonably priced RFAs.
Despite that, the $5.5M of cap space represented by Justin Holl and Alex Kerfoot could be explored today. No specific mention of either player has co …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation