Moving Bo Bichette to centre field may be so crazy, that it actually works

Look, the likelihood of this happening is essentially zero, but I think it’s an interesting discussion that has some merit.

In the early part of the 2022 season, I wrote about how the Blue Jays should move shortstop Bo Bichette to second base, as his defense at short was well below average. I felt comfortable with that opinion, as it would have just been a swap with everyday second baseman Santiago Espinal.
This article is a little bit different. Unlike the previous article and more like an onion, this article will have more layers as we’re in the off-season. Let’s get into the pros and cons of why this idea may be so damn crazy that it’ll work.
Starting the caveat:
We’ll get into why it looks good on paper in the next few sections, but this section will feature the biggest obstacle in why this likely won’t happen.
Imagine you’re Bo Bichette, and you’ve been touted as the long-term shortstop of the Toronto Blue Jays. Four years into your young career, the Jays are looking to move you off the position and into the outfield (in this case, centre field.)
I don’t imagine he’d be very happy with the situation, and I don’t even know if the Jays would consider this as they’ve spent four years developing Bichette at short. While it may make sense on paper, the human element, as well as the team’s interests are likely in a different direction. That doesn’t mean it isn’t an inter …

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Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation

Armchair GM: Blue Jays Need a Lefty Bat, Cards Need A Catcher

Introducing a new series! This is Armchair GM, a weekly to bi-weekly segment in which I take a look at some of the rumours swirling around the Blue Jays world, and the baseball world at large. I’ll identify a team need, then flesh those rumours out into fully fledged trade ideas that I think make some sense for both sides.
Early Wednesday morning, the Blue Jays announced that they’d dealt Teoscar Hernandez to the Mariners for a couple of pitchers, Erik Swanson and Adam Macko. One of the biggest talking points throughout the entire season was that the Jays needed a left handed hitter, and they just opened a spot in the outfield for one. Of course, the Jays have shown early interest in free agents such as Brandon Nimmo, but it’s possible that their best bet is just through trades. Another common talking point of late is that the Cardinals may be a good fit, as they have a surplus of outfielders but lack a catcher now that Yadier Molina has called it a career.

The #BlueJays have enviable catching depth. They don’t have to make a trade, but they’re exploring the possibility
So who will have interest? From the least likely suitors (Orioles) to the truly intriguing fits (Cardinals), let’s predict who will call https://t.co/vX2IfZHS6F
— Ben Nicholson-Smith (@bnicholsonsmith) November 9, 2022

There’s a reason h …

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Author: Tate Kispech / Blue Jays Nation

Blue Jays, Position by Position: Without external help, the bullpen is already in good shape heading into next season

In the last installment of this series, we’ll look at the Blue Jays bullpen.

I won’t lie, I thought the bullpen was actually pretty good in 2022. It’s also looking to be much better heading into 2023, as they have quite a few relief prospects who could make the jump next season.
So, let’s recap how each of the core relievers did in 2022, the depth, and the prospects the Jays have. Afterward, we’ll look at what they may do externally to improve the arm barn.
The guaranteed relievers for 2023:
First, we’ll look at the pitchers that I believe are a lock for the bullpen in 2023.
Jordan Romano:
Starting with the bullpen ace, we have closer Jordan Romano. The 29-year-old Canadian posted a 2.11 ERA and 2.82 FIP in 64 innings pitched, along with a 28.3 K% and 8.1 BB%. His 36 saves ranked sixth in the league, but that doesn’t tell you how many one-run leads he protected.

With the winning run in scoring position, Jordan Romano shuts it down. pic.twitter.com/kBzxojcklG
— MLB (@MLB) September 4, 2022

Romano was an integral part of the Blue Jays in 2022, and he will continue to be such as he won’t hit free agency until 2026.
Anthony Bass:
The big acquisition in the bullpen at the trade deadline, the recently turned 35-year-old had an impressive season split between Miami and Toronto. He had a 1.54 ERA and 3.00 FIP in 70.1 innings pitched. Along with that, he had a 26.5 K% and a 7.3 BB%.

Anthony Bass White Castle Special. pic.twitter.com/wCgDhkihOU
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) September 15, 2022

His numbers with the Jays ticked up quite a bit, however, as he had a 1.75 ERA and 4.63 FIP in 25.2 innings pitched.
Bass has a $3 million club option which will more than likely be picked up by the Blue Jays. He will be a free agent at the end of the 2023 season.
Yimi Garcia:
Garcia was si …

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Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation

Blue Jays, Position by Position: The starting pitching conundrum and how the Jays may have to fill two spots

As we learned this season, pitching is crucial

I don’t think it’s unfair to say that the Jays had a solid pitching core in 2022, both with starters and the bullpen. However, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t concerns heading into the 2023 season, especially with a few spots in the rotation.
Let’s look at who’s penciled in, which pitchers are depth pieces, and which prospects could impact the Jays in the 2023 season.
Side note: I’m not including Hyun-Jin Ryu in this article. There’s an outside chance he’ll be able to pitch in the back end of the season, but I find it super unlikely. Would be nice to get the 2020 form of Ryu though.
Penciled in starters for the 2023 season:
There are three starters that are already penciled into the rotation. I think it’s likely another one will come via trade, while they’ll sign a fifth starter. Here’s the rotation as it stands:
Starter 1: Alek Manoah
Starter 2: Kevin Gausman
Starter 3: N/A
Starter 4: Jose Berrios
Starter 5: N/A
Swingman/Longman: Yusei Kikuchi/Mitch White/Casey Lawerence
So as you can see, the #3 spot in the rotation will have to be filled (likely via trade), while the #5 spot could be filled via signing, or by way of Yusei Kikuchi or Mitch White.
2022 starters, a flashback:
Thankfully enough, starting pitching wasn’t really a problem for the 2022 Blue Jays. They had two aces, a pitcher who pitched well two-thirds of the time, and a hero that stepped up when the team needed him most. Granted, they also lost a lot of games because of a lack of a fifth starter, but it wouldn’t have changed muc …

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Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation

Useless Trade Speculation: Vol.1

Will there be other volumes? MAYBE!

So this has been rattling around in my head for a few weeks and I figured, if Hot Stove speculation is kicking off, throw another log in the fire. This concept comes with a lot of caveats (as all such speculation does) and I’ll start with those. First, I’m pretending Ohtani (and Judge) are off the table as too expensive. If they surprise us and blow through the tax threshold, great…wonderful…dance in the streets. But I’ve no reason to assume any such future so when I say something like “my favorite target” know that I’m setting those two aside.
Second, if I’m being honest I wouldn’t bat an eye if the only thing they did to the lineup was re-purpose Tapia’s money and roster spot to someone else (I wouldn’t be shocked at all if JBJ ends up back here to handle the defensive tasks). Say, for example, Joc Pederson. Likewise, I’d be copasetic if next year’s opening day bullpen was manned entirely by players already in the organization. I’m not unaware of the “get some swing and miss” narrative nor do I specifically object to shopping in that aisle (Joe Jiminez looks mighty appealing) albeit such a move would require making room by, say, trad …

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Author: Tammy Rainey / Blue Jays Nation

The annual Leafs Nation predictions

Normally I like to run this content a couple of days before the start of the season, but with the long weekend here and the preseason wrapping up tonight, I figured lets get the predictions up early, especially since one of the questions is about the first Leaf traded and that could be happening as we speak.
This year 14 of our TLN contributors, and despite decades of worth of disappointment from the Leafs, we certainly still saw some passion shine through in the results, including some borderline troublesome Vezina predictions.
Without further adieu let’s hop into the predictions starting with the big one…

Those are the top cup contenders according to our TLN panel. These seem like a reasonable list, even if I think we’re a tad premature on expecting anything from the Leafs after a steady stream of hurt, but let’s admire optimism. The interesting team left off here is probably the Oilers, but I suppose we’ve all seen too much of Jack Campbell to expect anything from them this year.
50%
of those surveyed had the Leafs winning the division
On paper, it very much seems like a two horse race between the Leafs and the Lightning, but the Panthers were dismissed from this conversation last year too, and while I’m not ready to throw the Bruins into the mix, it still is very difficult division. The Lightning have definitely taken a step back and that could make the division title attainable for the Leafs.
13 out of 14
people said if the Leafs didn’t win the division it would be the Lightning
That definitely fits with what was said above, and in case you had to ask, the other vote was for the Panthers.

When it comes to how far the Leafs will go, I guess I’m the only one with some respect for tradition. …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

“Just win a round”: The hot seats of Kyle Dubas and Sheldon Keefe

It is abundantly clear where the bar is set for the Leafs this season. It’s really in the same spot as last season, the season before that, and the season before that. We’ve already established that the Leafs are a pretty good regular season team, dominant even at times, but with a playoff drought that is older than their top pick in this summer’s draft, the bar that needs to be cleared is erasing almost two decades of embarrassment before saying you are focusing on winning the cup.

Dubas on if it’s a make or break year and what the betting lines about Keefe’s job: “Our goal is not to win one round, our goal is to win four; I don’t worry about what the betting line says about Sheldon or any regard.”
— David Alter (@dalter) September 21, 2022

Dubas was playing the hits again yesterday when talking about his job security as well as Sheldon Keefe’s and while I’d generally give high grades to Dubas’ tenure in Toronto and say in many ways he has brought in a roster that I can support, there is no ignoring the obvious failure. Dubas is essentially a very good skimmer that can’t stick his face in the water, wait that’s not fair, it’s the team at large in that situation. The Leafs are a good skimmer that just can’t stick their face in the …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

The Nathan MacKinnon contract and how it affects the Leafs

You had to know this post was coming right? And it probably doesn’t take much effort to guess at how this affects the Leafs. So let’s jump right into the inevitable discussion of how Nathan MacKinnon’s contract will impact not only Auston Matthews’ next contract, but likely Mitch Marner’s next contract as well.
Here’s the contract:
$12.8 AAV for 8 years with a full no-movement clause throughout. The deal was signed when Nathan MacKinnon is 27 years old, the deal is front-loaded and pays him a $16.5M combined salary and signing bonus in year one, transitions in year 4 (2026-27) to $12.15M and drops to $9.9M in year 5 and stays at that until the end of his contract. MacKinnon’s contract is largely paid in signing bonuses and has an escalated salary to reflect the minimum salary being likely to rise. The signing bonus structure means it would be a gigantic pain in the ass to buy out. The one year (year 4, 2026-27) where the majority of MacKinnon’s contract is paid as salary instead of signing bonus coincides with the expiration of the current CBA. Based on the current salary cap of $82.5M, MacKinnon’s contract takes up 15.27% of the salary cap. That’s the import …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

The Blue Jays are now seven games up on Baltimore after another 6-3 win over the O’s

The Orioles have been a great story this year, and they’ve been a pain in the side of the Blue Jays, who are looking to establish themselves down the stretch in the playoff race. Now, it looks like Toronto has found their stride against their AL East rival, as they have now won six of their last seven games against Baltimore.

Raimel Tapia and George Springer combined for a pair of big hits leading the Blue Jays to a 6-3 win over the Orioles on Saturday afternoon. Jose Berrios earned his 11th win of the season, as well as his third straight quality start for the month of September.
The day started off with a bang, as Tapia made a leaping catch against the left field wall to rob Cedric Mullins of an extra-base hit to lead off the game. Tapia, who has logged more innings in the outfield due to the injury of Lourdes Gurriel Jr., even gave a Dikembe Mutombo-esque finger wag after the catch, as if to say “Don’t hit it this way.”

Raimel Tapia…
Wearing red Climbing walls Made a web gem
Spider-Man? pic.twitter.com/ue44w7xwmR
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) September 17, 2022

For the second consecutive game, Matt Chapman got the Blue Jays on the board first. Springer and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. each singled to start the bottom of the 1st. Bo Bichette grounded into a fielder’s choice to advance Springer to third, with Bichette hustling to first to stay out of a double play. Chapman followed by hitting a sac fly to center field, scoring Springer. The Blue Jays’ lack of ability to score runs with runners in scoring position has been a frustrating thing for fans to watch all season, so it was good to see the Blue Jays get baserunners into scoring position and get them home.
Santiago Espinal and Cavan Biggio led off the second inning with single each, opening the door for Springer to drive them both in with a 2-run double.
Berrios let the Orioles back into the …

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Author: Evan Stack / Blue Jays Nation

PK Subban might find his best price as an in season free agent option

Let me start by saying this isn’t making a case for Subban coming to the Leafs. In fact other than this initial preamble I’m not sure there will be a ton a Leafs content in this article, we’ll have to see where this journey takes us.
From a Leafs perspective, Toronto is already set with seven NHL defensemen once Rasmus Sandin is signed, and Jordie Benn and Victor Mete seem to be very capable depth options to put on the Marlies. Making room for Subban would likely mean not only moving Justin Holl, but one other defenseman to have a spot for PK in the lineup. I’m not sure the Leafs wanted to do that.
Throw in the fact that Mark Giordano a two year $800k AAV deal that seems to set a ballpark for what the Leafs are willing to spend on veteran defense wanting to come back to play in their hometown. While I’m sure most people would easily put 2021-22 Giordano over Subban, it’s still a very reasonable thing for Subban to not be ready to take a sub $1M deal. He still has talents that can be marketed well above that range and he is likely trying to get his price.
That’s …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation