Former Blue Jay Scott Rolen has been elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame

Cooperstown will be welcoming two Blue Jays to the Hall of Fame this year.

The Veterans Committee voted Fred McGriff into the Hall earlier this winter and now Scott Rolen has been voted in by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. Rolen received 76.3 percent of votes, narrowly getting over the 75 percent needed to be elected…

Rolen: 76.3Helton: 72.2Wagner: 68.1Jones: 58.1Sheffield: 55Beltran: 46.5Kent: 46.5A-Rod: 35.7Manny: 33.2Vizquel: 19.5Pettitte: 17Abreu: 15.4Rollins: 12.9Buehrle: 10.8K-Rod: 10.8Hunter: 6.9
— Ryan Thibodaux (@NotMrTibbs) January 24, 2023

Rolen, an eight-time Gold Glove winner and seven-time All-Star, obviously isn’t at all remembered for his brief stint in Toronto, which came late in his career.
He came up with the Philadelphia Phillies in the mid-90s and won the National League Rookie of the Year in 1997. After seven seasons with the Phillies, he was dealt to the St. Louis Cardinals, where he’d spend six seasons and win the 2006 World Series.
In January of 2008, the Blue Jays acquired Rolen from the Cardinals in exchange for Troy Glaus. Over a season-and-a-half in Toronto, Rolen slashed a .288/.358/.452 line with 19 home runs while playing excellent defence at the hot corner. With the Blue Jays firmly out of contention in July of 2009, he was moved to the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for Edwin Encarnacion, Josh Roenicke, and Zach Stewart.
Rolen is a prime example of how baseball’s perception of player value has changed over the years. In his first go-around on the ballot back in 2018, Rolen received just 10.8 percent of votes and was nowhere near being elected to the Hall of Fame. But over the past few years, the sabermetrics community has pushed hard in favour of Rolen, who put up a 70.1 bWAR over his career in the big leagues.
Elsew …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Winter League wrap-up, final edition: Rainer Núñez’s team falls in the finals, Bowden Francis dominated in the semi-finals, and more!

This will be the last edition of the Winter League wrap-up… This means that we’re getting closer to the start of the 2023 season!

While most of the leagues haven’t finished, there are no more Blue Jay prospects playing, so it’s time to wrap up the wrap-ups.
In this article, we’ll look at prospects who played in their team’s playoff rounds. In a two-part series, I looked at how all the Jays prospects did in LIDOM (you can read that here), as well as in the other three winter leagues (which you can read here).
Let’s start by focusing on the Dominican Winter League.
Licey del Tigres win the Dominican Winter League:
On Wednesday night, Licey won their 23rd title in LIDOM, beating Rainer Núñez’s Estrellas 2-1 in the final game to win the series 4-1.

Nate Pearson is emerging as that high leverage, swing and miss the 2023 Jays are lacking.
11 IP0 ER5 H15 K (36.59 K%)4 BB (9.76 BB%)34 swinging strikes (43.59 whiff%)36.75 CSW%
Here is every whiff & strikeout this season.#BlueJays #NextLevel pic.twitter.com/YCmlr3Ypo7
— Brennan Delaney (@Brennan_L_D) November 13, 2022

As you may know, Nate Pearson was a big part of Licey’s early success, pitching in relief and doing so quite well. Finishing in mid-November, the 26-year-old posted a 36.6 K%, a 9.8 BB%, and a 43.6 whiff %. Moreover, he didn’t allow an earned run in the 12 innings he pitched in. I wrote more about his adventure in the Dominican Republic here, but he’s emerged as a potential bullpen piece for the Blue Jays next season.
Sadly for Núñez, he didn’t quite perform as he did during the regular season, which saw him win LIDOM’s Rookie of The Year award. In the four-team round-robin, he slashed .167/.219/.167 with 11 strikeouts in 32 plate appearances for a 34.4 K%.

¡DOBLETE de Rainer Núñez que remolca la primera de las @EOBASEBALLCLUB! 🐘🌟#LIDOM #CopaBanreservas ⚾️🏆 pic.twitter.com/Mnx8FYvZwT
— LIDOM (@LIDOMRD) December 8, 2022

It’s possible that the 22-year-old first baseman was dealing with exhaustion, as he had been playing since April 2022. Either way, Núñez certainly made an impression and ranked as Blue Jays Nation’s 16th-best prospect heading into 2023.
Criollos de Caguas bow out in the semi-final:
Although Blue Jays p …

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Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation

Toronto Maple Leafs set to visit Arizona Coyotes in 5,000-seat Mullett Arena for the first time

Toronto Maple Leafs set to visit Arizona Coyotes in 5,000-seat Mullett Arena for the first time

The Toronto Maple Leafs will hit the ice for their first game at the 5,000-seat Mullett Arena in Tempe, AZ when they take on the streaking Arizona Coyotes on Thursday evening.

The Coyotes (12–16–5) toppled the defending Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche 6–3 on Tuesday. They’ve been one of the National Hockey League’s best teams at home this season, posting a 6–3–2 record through their first stretch of games at the brand-new arena.
The Maple Leafs are used to playing in front of big crowds at Scotiabank Arena, but the Coyotes have one thing going for them that the Leafs don’t: a sellout streak. Arizona has sold out each of its first 11 home games at Mullett Arena this season, with attendance capped at 4,600 in its NHL configuration; as of midnight on December 29, the cheapest seats for Thursday’s Toronto/Arizona game were listed at $190 USD, with standing room passes also available for $150.
Mullett Arena, the NHL’s newest and smallest rink, has drawn rave reviews from players for the quality of its ice surface. Construction also recently finished on brand-new home and visitor NHL dressing rooms, the latter of which ranks among the largest in the league — a far cry from the temporary hodgepodge put together for the Coyotes’ first homestand.
The new rooms are firmly big-league quality.

👀#GoHabsGo pic.twitter.com/Iqm3JMa5XK
— Canadiens Montréal (@CanadiensMTL) December 19, 2022

The Coyotes are preparing for their arena and entertainment district proposal to go before Tempe citizens in a referendum this coming May. Until then, they’re firmly in rebuilding mode, albeit with the likes of Clayton Keller, …

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Author: Mike Gould / The Leafs Nation

Daulton Varsho’s offensive results should receive considerable boost in 2023

The addition of Daulton Varsho will improve the Toronto Blue Jays’ roster in numerous ways next season, with most of the fan base focusing on his elite defensive abilities, and rightly so. But while the former Arizona Diamondback should make a significant impact in the outfield, he also stands to do so at the plate.
And after enjoying a breakout performance last season, there’s the potential for the 26-year-old – under team control through 2026 – to raise his ceiling to another level as he attempts to make a seamless transition with Canada’s lone MLB franchise.
On the surface, Varsho’s 2022 offensive results weren’t eye-popping – aside from his career-best 27 home runs, .443 slugging percentage and .207 isolated power – as he struggled to a .235 batting average and a .302 on-base percentage across 151 games. The left-hander also posted a measly 106 wRC+, putting him six per cent above league average.
But, like with many traditional results, these don’t tell you the whole story. They provide a small glimpse into Varsho’s offensive skills, though to better understand his value, we must explore his biggest strength: hitting against right-handed pitchers.
As a lefty, the 5-foot-10 outfielder matches up exceptionally well versus righties, hitting .240/.317/.484 with 26 home runs, a …

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Author: Thomas Hall / Blue Jays Nation

News and Notes: Michael Brantley re-signs with the Astros, the catcher market is dwindling, and more!

It looks increasingly likely that the Jays will be making a trade for a fourth outfielder.

Would you look at that, it’s time for another News and Notes. The Jays haven’t been involved in many rumours, but there has been a lot of action as of late which has impacted the Jays. Let’s dig in.
Michael Brantley re-signs with the Houston Astros:
We’ll start with the largest and most recent topic, Michael Brantley signing with the reigning World Series champions, per Fansided’s Robert Murray.

Free-agent outfielder Michael Brantley in talks with the Houston Astros, according to a source familiar with the situation.
— Robert Murray (@ByRobertMurray) December 18, 2022

The contract is what you’d expect for a player who will turn 36 years old in May, $12 million with incentives for a single year, per The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal.

Free-agent outfielder Michael Brantley in agreement with Astros on one-year, $12M contract, pending physical, sources tell @TheAthletic. On it: @ByRobertMurray
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 18, 2022

To me, Brantley didn’t really fit the Jays roster. He slashed .288/.370/.416 with five homers in 277 plate appearances for a 127 wRC+ in 2022. While he is great with that bat (he was also one of six players with a higher BB% than K%), he only played 249 innings in left field in 2022.
Not just that, but he hasn’t been a plus defender at least since 2019, plus I think the Jays would want to lean more toward a right fielder.
The Astros have apparently also been speaking with free agent right fielder, Michael Conforto according to Michael Schwab, but this tweet was before it was announced that they were signing Brantley.

The Astros are engaged in contract discussions with Michael Conforto, per people familiar with the matter.
I have been told the Astros gave a competitive offer but several teams are interested and nothing is imminent.
— Michael Schwab (@michaelschwab13) December 18, 2022

The bat would have definitely helped, but it seemed to me Brantley would DH more often than not if he were a Blue Jay, and they already have a log jam there. Speaking of which…
The Jays could keep all three catchers:
Per …

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Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation

This Raptors trade target may be a better fit than Jakob Poeltl

This Raptors trade target may be a better fit than Jakob Poeltl

The Toronto Raptors will likely make some move of note in the next few months, as the club’s 2-7 record in the last nine games is a painful illustration of how the roster has stagnated. Home wins against the Kings and Nets were choked away in brutal fashion. The Raptors’ two biggest issues are a […]
This Raptors trade target may be a better fit than Jakob Poeltl – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ

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

Examining the Shapiro Era Trades, Part two: The Losses

As a team, you will have your losses here and there. 

On Saturday, we looked at the 19 trades since the Mark Shapiro era started that was considered a win by voters on Twitter. Today, we’ll look at the “losses”
Just a few notes before we begin:
Yes, Shapiro doesn’t make the trades, but they likely run through him. Not just that, but when Mark Shapiro was brought in, so too was Ross Atkins. Hence why I call it the “Shapiro era”.
Secondly, I don’t think most of these were actual losses. So I’ll give my reasoning and context as to why I thought otherwise. Let’s start with the first ever trade of the Shapkins era.
The Liam Hendriks trade:
Fun fact, this is the only trade in any of these articles for which Ross Atkins wasn’t the General Manager.
The Jays traded reliever Liam Hendriks for Jesse Chavez. In 2015, Hendrik had a 2.92 ERA and 2.14 FIP in 64.2 innings pitched. With the Jays in 2016, Chavez had a 4.57 ERA and 4.82 FIP in 41.1 innings pitched. He was later traded to the Dodgers in exchange for Mike Boslinger. On paper, it definitely looks like the Jays lost this trade, but let’s look at the context.
Context:
When we think of Liam Hendriks, we think of one of the best closers in the MLB to this day (and a standup guy). This wasn’t always the case, however. While his ERA and FIP sparkled in 2015, it was by far his best up to that point. Between 2011-2018, Hendriks had a 4.72 ERA and 3.91 FIP in 406.1 innings pitched.
In his first three seasons in Oakland, he had a 4.01 ERA and 3.24 FIP. Fun fa …

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Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation

If the Blue Jays qualify Ross Stripling and he accepts, he’ll earn $19.65 million in 2023

Major League Baseball’s qualifying offer will be set at $19.65 million for the 2023 season, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post.

The qualifying offer is just the average of the top 125 highest salaries in baseball, so it generally goes up from year to year. That wasn’t the case last year, though, as the qualifying offer dropped from $18.9 million for the 2021 season to $18.4 million for the 2022 season.
Teams can issue a player a qualifying offer if they’re headed to free agency for the first time. If the player accepts the offer, they’ll be paid that $19.65 million figure on a one-year deal and they can’t be qualified again. If they decline, they’ll head to free agency and their team will receive a compensatory draft pick if they sign elsewhere.
Last year, the Blue Jays issued qualifying offers to Robbie Ray and Marcus Semien, who left to sign multi-year contracts with the Seattle Mariners and Texas Rangers respectively. With their two compensatory draft picks at No. 77 and No. 78 overall, the Blue Jays selected Tucker Toman and Cade Doughty.
This year, the Blue Jays will need to decide whether or not to issue Ross Stripling a qualifying offer. The 32-year-old is eligible to hit free agency for the first time after a season in which he went 10-4 with a 3.01 ERA over 134 1/3 innings as a relie …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Raptors’ Fred VanVleet has bold take in NBA GOAT debate

Raptors’ Fred VanVleet has bold take in NBA GOAT debate

Nothing will get NBA fans more worked up than debating who is the greatest player in league history, as the arguments can get very vitriolic. Toronto Raptors All-Star point guard Fred VanVleet officially decided to dip his toe into these perilous waters. Unless you’ve been living in space for the last few decades, the top […]
Raptors’ Fred VanVleet has bold take in NBA GOAT debate – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ