Welcome to the Toronto Maple Leafs: 2020 Top Pick Rodion Amirov Signs his Entry-Level Contract

The long rumoured signing of the Toronto Maple Leafs’ top pick in the 2020 draft has finally happened. Winger Rodion Amriov has put pen to paper and signed his entry-level contract this morning. His season in Russia came to an end recently as Tolpar Ufa was eliminated from the playoffs earlier this month. In 39 KHL games this season, the silky winger had 13 points – nine of which were goals – and looked more mature as the season went on, continuing to develop his game away from the puck. He also added three points in five games in the MHL playoffs after joining the junior club for the postseason.

We’ve signed forward Rodion Amirov to a three-year entry level contract for the 2021-22 season. #LeafsForever
Details » https://t.co/XMNUb1wVQ5 pic.twitter.com/Pvj7qWGcg9
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) April 15, 2021

To give a quick summation of what Amirov brings to the table, he is one of the best skaters from the 2020 draft class when you take all factors into consideration from speed, edge work, agility and every other aspect of mobility. His ability to generate speed through the middle of the ice with crossovers and quick feet is impressive as it often …

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Author: Tony Ferrari / The Leafs Nation

The Blue Jays have signed Tyler Chatwood to pitch as a reliever

Hey, look, the Blue Jays have made a signing! But it’s fuckin’ Tyler Chatwood!

At a glance, adding Chatwood, who posted a 5.30 ERA for the Cubs last season, looks like some kind of Tanner Roark-ass, back-of-the-rotation starter addition, but Shi Davidi says that the team is planning to use him out of the ‘pen, making this a bit more interesting…

#BlueJays in agreement with right-hander Tyler Chatwood, pending physical, per source. Expected to be used out of bullpen. @JonHeyman first.
— Shi Davidi (@ShiDavidi) January 19, 2021

While Chatwood’s season was pretty ugly last year, he actually has some very strong peripherals numbers. Chatwood struck out 12.1 batters per nine innings and he had a 96th percentile spin rate, according to Baseball Savant.
In 2019, Chatwood tossed 54 innings out of the ‘pen for the Cubs and posted a 3.67 ERA and struck out 8.8 batters per nine. The issue for him, though, is control, as he walked 25 batters over those 54 innings. Chatwood also walked 4.3 batters per nine in 2020.
This isn’t the exciting add anybody was looking for, but Chatwood looks like a pretty solid low-risk, high-reward option for a bullpen that could use some veteran arms. If there’s one thing this front office …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Spezza to retire if claimed on waivers

After signing another cheap one year deal with the Leafs, it seemed pretty clear that Jason Spezza wants to finish his career as a Toronto Maple Leaf.
And that was basically confirmed today, as Chris Johnston reported that if Spezza gets claimed on waivers by another team, he will retire.

Jason Spezza’s agent says the veteran centre will retire if claimed off waivers by another NHL team: https://t.co/ytEdlf5yR8
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) January 17, 2021

Spezza was put on waivers today alongside goaltender Aaron Dell in an attempt to allow cap and waiver flexibility for the Leafs with the taxi squad, particularly in the wake of Nick Robertson’s injury last night.
This bodes somewhat well for the Leafs, as this will likely scare off other teams from claiming him, and allow him to stay a Toronto Maple Leaf. The only way I can see someone claiming him is to purely spite the Leafs and make them lose a depth piece for absolutely nothing. I doubt it happens because I feel like screwing over a veteran player probably isn’t in some people’s best interests, but we all know how petty some teams can be with the Leafs.

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Author: Scott Maxwell / The Leafs Nation

Apparently the Blue Jays are one of the teams who has offered Ha-Seong Kim a multi-year contract

If we’re going to get a last-minute signing before 2020 comes to a close, it’s more than likely going to be Ha-Seong Kim.

Kim, a star from the Korean Baseball Organization, was officially posted by the Kiwoom Heroes back in early-December. Given the 30-day window for contract negotiations expires on Jan. 1, Kim will soon have to come to terms with a Major League club if he wants to make the trek overseas for the 2021 season.
According to Daniel Kim, ESPN’s KBO insider, there are multiple teams who have offered Kim a contract, and the Blue Jays are apparently one of them…

Sources – #BlueJays are one of the teams that offered multi-year contract to Ha-seong Kim. Said to be 5 years or more. Kim’s posting ends on Jan 1. #mlb #kbo pic.twitter.com/iVZDTB9BPk
— Daniel Kim 대니얼 김 (@DanielKimW) December 28, 2020

Along with the Blue Jays, we’ve heard that the Mets (of course), Rangers, Red Sox, Cardinals, and Padres are interested in signing Kim.
I wrote about Kim a few months ago when his name first surfaced on the international free-agent market as a possibility for the Blue Jays. I thought he made quite a bit of sense because …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Building a better Leafs team through signing bonuses and one absurd idea

Signing bonuses. The Leafs have them. Free agents want them. It’s a beautiful situation to be in for the Leafs, minus the fact that the Leafs have about $8M to spend on 5 positions at the moment. That is decidedly less ideal, but of course there is the 10% offseason salary cap inflator for Toronto to take advantage of at the moment.
The fact that signing bonuses are an advantage for the Leafs is nothing new. In a regular season this is a huge advantage for Toronto in free agency, but this year it could allow Toronto to pay a fraction of the price that other teams are paying, at least on short term deals to bring players in for guaranteed money.
From Elliotte Friedman’s 31 Thoughts:

This is going to be a big one. Honestly, I missed how big an issue this could be.
The NHL and NHLPA put their abrasive history behind them to reach a long-term CBA extension before the return to play. In it, the players accepted a 10 per cent deferral and a 20 per cent escrow deduction, which means they are entitled to 72 per cent of their gross salaries …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

What to expect from Ilya Mikheyev this summer

No Leafs free agency signing has better captured the imagination of the fan base than Ilya Mikheyev. The KHL forward instantly made splashes on Leafs twitter and blogs with his unconditional love for soup, and further cemented his popularity with his speed and gritty play on the ice. For the Leafs, the addition of Mikheyev last summer was a nice depth signing in a year where the lineup was in constant flux due to injuries on both the left and right wing. Unfortunately, Mikheyev suffered his own quite scary injury when his wrist was slashed by Jesper Bratt in late December – in classic Mikheyev fashion, he battled through shortly after the incident to start a breakout amidst a Devil’s forecheck before rushing to the bench.
This has left more questions than answers for the Leafs, who need to constantly make careful decisions about resigning players, and didn’t benefit from the smaller sample size of games for Mikheyev. This post will attempt to asses Mikheyev’s value based on his production, suggest some potential routes forward for the Leafs, and go into additional detail on the series against Columbus.
By the numbers
As mentioned above, …

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Author: mackinawstats / The Leafs Nation

Mark Shapiro says the Blue Jays are “exploring” extensions for the young core. What would those look like?

With more and more young stars signing long-term extensions before reaching their arbitration years, eyes have turned to the Blue Jays’ front office and how they plan to handle their young core. Bo Bichette, Vlad Guerrero Jr., and Cavan Biggio just broke into the league last year, but it isn’t out of the question to start talking about long-term contracts.

Mark Shapiro appeared on Writers Bloc with Stephen Brunt and Jeff Blair on Sportsnet 590 on Tuesday and this was one of the topics the trio discussed.
“That is a strategy which (has been) a very big part of my career,” said Shapiro. “And it’s something that we believe strongly in.
“Whether we do anything or not, I would assume we’ve explored it or are exploring it with every one of our young players that we have a strong belief are gonna be good players here for a long time.”
Back when he was with Cleveland, Shapiro was involved with signing Corey Kluber to a long-term extension before he was able to reach arbitration for the first time. After two full seasons in the Majors, Cleveland and Kluber agreed …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Report: Blue Jays sign former NPB pitcher Rafael Dolis

According to Scott Mitchell of TSN, the Blue Jays are signing RHP Rafael Dolis. Mitchell notes that it’ll be a one-year deal plus a team option.
Dolis, 32, appeared most recently for the Hanshin Tigers of Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB), tossing 57.1 innings to an ERA of 2.51, striking out 52 and walking 12. Before that, he briefly appeared in the majors for the Chicago Cubs over the course of three seasons.

#BlueJays are in agreement with right-hander Rafael Dolis on a one-year deal plus a club option, per source.The 32-year-old reliever has been pitching in Japan, but has 44 innings of MLB experience from back in 2011-13.
— Scott Mitchell (@ScottyMitchTSN) January 25, 2020

In total, the native of La Romano, Dominican Republic has appeared in over 200 MiLB games in the Cubs, Tigers, and Giants organizations.
More to come.

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Author: Hayden Godfrey / Blue Jays Nation

Blue Jays sign Ryan Dull to a minor-league deal

The signing spree continues! I’ll admit, this one isn’t very exciting. It’s actually quite Dull. Ha haaaa!!!

The Blue Jays have reportedly inked righty reliever Ryan Dull to a minor-league deal that also features an invite to spring training.

Source: #BlueJays in agreement with free-agent RHP Ryan Dull.
— Robert Murray (@ByRobertMurray) January 18, 2020

Dull joins a whole bunch of guys aiming to compete for jobs in a completely wide-open bullpen. You have Ken Giles as the closer and, well, that’s about it. I would assume Wilmer Font has himself a role next year, as does the newly-acquired Anthony Bass, but, after that, it’s anyone’s guess.
Since posting a stellar 2016 season with the Oakland A’s in which he posted a 2.42 ERA over 74 1/3 innings, Dull has been pretty bad. He posted a 4.81 ERA between 2017 and 2018 and found himself bouncing around on waivers in 2019. Oakland waived him, San Fransisco claimed him, then they waived him and the Yankees claimed him, and then he got waived again and the Jays claimed him. We saw Dull make one appearance in Toronto, allowing one run over an inning and a third. He …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

What makes Hyun-Jin Ryu so good?

The Blue Jays have themselves an ace.  By signing Hyun-Jin Ryu the Blue Jays are making a statement that they are ready to start contending with their young core of position players. Adding a pitcher like Ryu is substantial. He is fresh off a season where he led the league in ERA at 2.32 and finished second in the National League Cy Young voting. Since Ryu joined the Major Leagues in 2013 his 2.98 ERA ranks eighth among starting pitchers.
The risk with Ryu has always been health. He’s only pitched 740.1 innings in his career and only has four seasons where he has made at least 25 starts. The Blue Jays need Ryu to stay healthy as when he is healthy he is one of the best starting pitchers in baseball.
It’s hard to pinpoint what exactly makes Ryu so special. His change-up might be the most effective in the league. He keeps hitters off-balance by effectively mixing his pitches, you never know what’s coming in what count. His command is unbelievable; he can throw any of his six pitches for strikes at any point in an at bat.

Hyun-Jin Ryu, 5Ks on 5 Different Pitches (with Tails).

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Author: Paul Berthelot / Blue Jays Nation