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Breaking as of November 4th, 2019, right-hander pitcher Chase Anderson has been traded to the Toronto Blue Jays. The Milwaukee Brewers will receive first basemane Chad Spanberger in return.
After spending the last four years with the Milwaukee Brewers, it was reported on Monday morning from Robert Murray of the Athletic that Chase Anderson was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays. Some were shocked about the trade news of Anderson, while some weren’t as much surprised with this news.

Anderson began his major league career with the Arizona Diamondbacks back in 2009 when he was a ninth round pick in the 2009 MLB draft. His major league debut with the Diamondbacks was May 11th, 2014 where allowed one earned run in the five innings he pitched, giving him the win. His first year as a major league player, he posted a 4.01 ERA with 105 strike outs.

January of 2016 brought Anderson to the Milwaukee Brewers, 2017 being his best season where he posted a 12-4 record and 2.75 ERA. His 2019 season wasn’t as great with a 4.21 ERA, 1.27 WHIP and a .240 AVG. Although traded, he did have an $8.5 Million option for the 2020 season, and a near $9 million contract option for the 2021 season, but it seems that the Brewers were looking to trade Anderson in hopes to spend the money that was spent on him on another player in their club.

Who’s coming to the Brewers?
The Brewers acquired Chad Spanberger is exchange for Anderson, who was a sixth round pick by the Colorado Rockies in 2017. He spent last season in Double-A where he posted a .237 AVG, 13 home-runs, 59 RBI’s, and a .707 OPS. An unknown name to some, Spanberger could most definitely bring some good fire to the team to help them go towards a successful 2020 season.

NEXT: Mike Moustakas 2019 season report card

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It is unsure on the contract details in regards to this whole trade, but, Brewers fans wish Anderson the best of luck as he heads to north of the border.

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This is the award he badly craved, making no secret of how satisfying it would be, and honestly – how much he truly believed he deserved it.

It took eight years to win his second American League Cy Young Award, but this one was the sweetest for Justin Verlander, earning the honor when most pitchers his age are retired or washed up.

Verlander, 36, became the oldest pitcher to win the Cy Young award since 42-year-old Roger Clemens in 2004.

“It would mean a lot to me,’’ Verlander told USA TODAY Sports in September. “Not just because of my age, but having gone through being at the top of my game, to going down and being hurt, and having people count me out, to getting back to where I am now.

“It gives me some perspective. I am enjoying it more. Not just the age, but having gone through at being atop of my game to going down and being hurt, and having people count me out, to all of the hard work to getting back to where I am now.

“All of that does allow me to appreciate the success a little bit.’’

And, yes, there is the revenge factor. He believes he should have won the award last year, too, instead of Blake Snell of the Tampa Bay. He thought he was robbed three years ago when Boston Red Sox starter Rick Porcello won the Cy Young award when he finished second, prompting future wife’s Kate Upton’s famous Twitter comment.

“A couple of those years hurt a lot,’’ Verlander says.

NL CY YOUNG: Mets ace Jacob deGrom goes back-to-back

In 2019, Verlander won 20 games for the second time in his career.
In 2019, Verlander won 20 games for the second time in his career. (Photo: Kevin Sousa, USA TODAY Sports)

Verlander, 21-6, 2.48 ERA, and Cole, 20-5, 2.50 ERA, became the first teammates to finish first and second in the Cy Young race since Hall of Famer Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling in 2002 with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Verlander and Cole also joined Johnson and Schilling as the only teammates to reach 300 strikeouts in the same season.

Verlander received 17 of 30 first-place votes, with the other 13 going to Cole.

And their former Astros teammate, Charlie Morton, finishing third, pitching his first season with the Tampa Bay Rays.

AL ROY: Astros budding slugging wins award

NL ROY: Historic season earns Mets slugger the award

Verlander, who had three Cy Young runner-up finishes since winning the Cy Young and AL MVP awards in 2011 with the Detroit Tigers, led the AL in victories, opponents’ batting average (.172), innings pitched (223), and WHIP (0.80). He also became the oldest pitcher since Johnson in 2004 to throw a no-hitter, the third of his career on Sept. 1, against the Toronto Blue Jays. Only Hall of Famers Nolan Ryan (7) and Sandy Koufax (4) have more no-hitters.

An old-school pitcher, Verlander is an outlier in today’s game. When you ask him what statistics he loves, it’s still victories. It’s still earned-run average. It’s still innings.

“I think wins are important,’’ Verlander says. “You ask any starting pitcher. You go out there and pitch seven innings, give up three runs and lose, you don’t feel as good as you do when you give up three runs in seven innings and win. As much as people want to shy away from the wins and losses, it definitely means something to us.

“I started to amass a good number of them. It comes with being healthy, throwing 200 innings, being out there for your team, covering the extra innings your bullpens doesn’t have to. When you do that, that’s how you get those extra wins.

“That’s how you get 13 to 15 wins instead of 10. That’s how you get 17 to 20 wins instead of 13 to 15. Those extra innings, those matter.’’

Verlander, who has pitched at least 200 innings in all but one season since his rookie year, also takes tremendous pride in the amount of innings he pitches each year. He has lead the major leagues four times, including this season.

“You can’t put a number on it because people can’t quantify how valuable it is,’’ Verlander says. “Just saving the bullpen, the impact those extra innings have, and what that means.”

If you want to go slightly more advanced, Verlander says, he loves WHIP. He had the third-lowest lowest WHIP by a starting pitcher since 1900, trailing only Pedro Martinez in 2000 (0.74) and Walter Johnson (0.77) in 1913.

“I think WAR is a pretty fickle number for starting pitchers, but the WHIP, that’s our job, to limit baserunners,’’ Verlander says. “The batting average against is a nice stat, but if you’re walking three or four batters per nine innings, the way batters now count a hit as good as a walk for OPS, those walks might as well be hits.’’

This season was just another page in his Hall of Fame résumé, becoming only the 18th pitcher in to reach 3,000 strikeouts. He reached that milestone in the fifth-quickest amount of games ever.

And isn’t it ironic that in the year Verlander was the most outspoken pitcher about baseballs being juiced this season – giving up nearly twice as many home runs (36) than during his last Cy Young season (19) – he still was the best in the American League.

Verlander would love to topple one more barrier before he retires, proving, yes, that it really is possible for a pitcher to still win 300 games.

He has 225 victories, and would have to pitch until he’s at least 40 to accomplish the feat, but it’s on his bucket list.

“People can say whatever they want,’’ Verlander says, “but I’m just going to keep my head down and keep pitching. There’s a lot of work behind the scenes. I do a lot more work now than I ever did before. It’s not just in the gym sweating my ass off, it’s the maintenance, knowing my body, and always kind of adapting and changing.

“I don’t know if I can do it or not, but I’m sure the hell going to try.’’

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After two balls opened the battle, the 21-year-old leadoff hitter fouled off seven consecutive pitches — a mix of four-seamers and sliders — before Pruitt issued ball three. Then came another pair of foul balls before Bichette crushed lucky No. 13, a Statcast-projected 393 feet away to give the Blue Jays a 1-0 lead.

Bichette’s leadoff HR on 13 pitch
Bichette’s leadoff HR on 13 pitch
Sep. 5th, 2019
It marked Bichette’s ninth home run and second career leadoff homer. His first came on Aug. 20 against Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw.

Bichette finished 2-for-5 on the night, and has hit safely in 10 of his past 11 games — he has a .329 average with 17 RBIs in 34 career games.

“I keep waiting for him to struggle a little bit because he’s only human, and he keeps doing what he’s doing,” Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said. “It’s been fun to watch. I’ve been in the front row watching this kid break record after record. … It’s amazing what he’s doing.”

The second inning nearly brought more of the same. Bichette stepped into the box with two on and two out and forced Pruitt to throw another eight pitches — including one ball and four that were fouled off — before grounding into a fielder’s choice to end the inning. Just facing Bichette alone caused Pruitt to throw 21 pitches in his first two innings.

The right-hander needed 50 pitches just to get through two frames.

In contrast, Toronto righty Trent Thornton held the Rays to one earned run (three total) on four hits over his 4 2/3 innings. The 25-year-old also fanned four to move to 127 on the season, which tied him with Jerry Garvin (1977) for third-most strikeouts by a rookie in Blue Jays history.

“I felt really good,” Thornton said. “I felt like I was able to execute the majority of my pitches tonight, and that’s the best my changeup’s felt all year. Just when baserunners get on, I have to do a better job of limiting damage and getting out of the inning quicker, instead of elevating my pitch count.”

By the time the fifth inning rolled around, the Rays had moved ahead, 2-1, and Pruitt’s pitch count was in the high 70s. Still, the third time indeed was the charm for Tampa Bay’s starter, as Bichette jumped on a first-pitch slider and grounded out to short.

While Pruitt won that battle, Bichette also marked the last hitter he’d face for the night, freeing up the Blue Jays to work on the Rays’ bullpen.

“I threw an entire inning to [Bichette],” Pruitt said. “Then the third time, he swung on the first pitch and I said, ‘Why couldn’t you do that the first two times, man?’”

Once Pruitt was out, Bichette was rewarded for his efforts. He pounced on reliever Oliver Drake in the seventh inning, clubbing a two-run homer that tied the game at 4 — Bichette’s second career multihomer game (the first one was Aug. 20).

Bichette’s game-tying 2-run homer
Bichette’s game-tying 2-run homer
Sep. 5th, 2019
Bichette also became the fifth Toronto rookie to hit double-digit homers and 12th on the team.

The sixth inning brought with it another rookie boost, as Cavan Biggio was hit by a pitch to lead off the frame and later stole second base. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. drove him home on a line-drive single to deep centre field to bring the Blue Jays to within one run, 3-2, for his 60th RBI.

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Yesterday’s flurry of transactions ended an era of Blue Jays baseball: when Devon Travis was outrighted and removed from the 40-man roster, the last link to Hall of Famer Roy Halladay was broken.

Prior to the moves, Travis was connected to Halladay in a rare linear chain of trades: Travis was acquired in a trade with the Tigers for Anthony Gose, who was acquired from the Astros for Brett Wallace, who was traded from the Athletics for Michael Taylor on the same day that Taylor was moved to the Jays from the Phillies as part of the haul for Halladay.

The Toronto Blue Jays Roster Tree Route Map at the end of the 2019 regular season. Minor Leaguer
On the Toronto Blue Jays Roster Tree Route Map, the TRAVIS (Pink) Line operated a route to Halladay serving the intermediary stops at Gose, Wallace, and Taylor. However, the line has experienced severe service disruptions the past few years and was completely out of commission for 2019.

It was somewhat of a sad move to remove the Pink Line to Halladay, which had existed since the very first Roster Tree Route Map here. It wasn’t much of a surprise; I was dreading making that deletion ever since Travis’s injury.

Beyond this frivolity, I am genuinely sad that Devon Travis could leave the Blue Jays organization—he was outrighted, but has enough service time to elect free agency—as he seems to be one of the good human beings in the game. I have heard of many really thoughtful acts he has done for various people in the Jays organization behind the scenes. He will be missed.

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The manager’s job opened up for Cito Gaston just as it always does in baseball — somebody else got fired.

On May 15, 1989, the Blue Jays fired Jimy Williams after the team had put together a 12-24 record.

General Manager Pat Gillick said the team had high hopes when Williams took the job three seasons earlier.

“We thought Jimy was maturing as a manager, we thought that he was fitting into the [manager's] seat very well, but sometimes the best-laid plans, they don’t work out,” he told reporters after firing Williams.

To fill the manager’s job, the team looked to Gaston to take over on an interim basis.

Will Cito stay?

Will Cito Gaston stick as manager?
31 years ago 1:12
Marty York talks to Midday about the odds of Cito Gaston taking on the Jays’ manager job on a permanent basis. 1:12
Gaston had been the team’s hitting coach since 1982 and was well-liked by players. And after one day on the job, the team was 1-0 under his watch.

But some doubted he’d be able to hang onto his new role for very long.

“I think Cito is a capable man. He does command the respect of the players — I think he can motivate them — he knows baseball and I would like to see them remove that interim tag,” sports journalist Marty York told CBC’s Midday the day after Gaston had been named manager.

“But from my understanding, the only way they’re going to do that is if he should win every game during his stint as interim manager. I don’t think that’s going to happen.”

The Toronto Star was just as bleak in its assessment. The paper reported the Jays would name a permanent manager within 10 days but said “Gaston isn’t on the short list of candidates.”

By the end of April, the team announced Gaston would be keeping his job until the end of the season.

‘No sense in worrying’

‘No sense’ in worrying about the past
30 years ago 0:28
Cito Gaston seemed unfazed by the pressure as the Jays chased a playoff bid near the end of the 1989 season. 0:28
The Jays under Gaston, in fact, would continue to improve through the 1989 season. And as the end got closer — with a possible, but still uncertain playoff bid in sight — the pressure didn’t seem to be getting to their manager.

Toronto Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston, (foreground), and infielders Tom Lawless (left) and Rance Mulliniks watch from the dugout in the final moments of American League Championship Series game Wednesday, Oct. 5, 1989 in Oakland. (Eric Risberg/Associated Press)
“There’s no sense in worrying about things that are in the past … being concerned about ‘em is only going to cause you a problem as far as worrying about ‘em,” Gaston told CBC, just a few days before the season wrapped.

“To me, at this time of year, you want to just stay as relaxed as you possibly can and not worry about things that happened two days ago or last night because that’s over with and you can’t do anything about it.”

Toronto finished with an 89-73 record, winning the division on the second-last game of the regular-season schedule.

And that meant the Jays would play in their first playoff series in four years.

The Blue Jays wouldn’t make it to the World Series that year, as the Oakland Athletics defeated them in just five games in the American League Championship Series.

But the Jays would make repeated and highly memorable trips to the post-season in the years to come.

2 World Series championships

Cito Gaston, shown in front right-hand corner, is seen celebrating the second Blue Jays’ second World Series win in 1993. (Elise Amendola/Associated Press)
From 1991 to 1993, the Jays would win three further division titles under Gaston. The team also won back-to-back World Series championships in 1992 and 1993.

Toronto Blue Jays newly-appointed manager Cito Gaston watches warmups before a baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates in Pittsburgh Friday, June 20, 2008. (Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press)
Gaston would continue to manage the Jays until the last week of the 1997 season.

He made a comeback in 2008, when he took on his old job after John Gibbons, then in his own first stint as a big-league manager, was fired by the Jays.

The team was 35-39 when Gaston took over. They finished their season with an 86-76 record.

Just like the first time around, Gaston was hired on an interim basis. But he would end up managing the team through the end of the 2010 season.

His career record as Blue Jays manager through two stints and 1,764 games stands at 913-851, according to statistics listed on the team’s website.

To date, no other manager has taken a Blue Jays team to the World Series and no one has spent more games — or won more games — as the Toronto bench boss than Gaston has.

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The Blue Jays have met with the representatives for free-agent catcher Yasmani Grandal, reports ESPN’s Marly Rivera (via Twitter).

It’s perhaps a curious fit upon first glance, given the Jays’ stated focus on adding rotation help, but interest in Grandal reflects both the Jays’ bulk of payroll flexibility and the uniqueness he brings to the free-agent market. One of the best-hitting catchers in the game (if not the best), Grandal also rates as an elite pitch framer, a quality pitch blocker and an average or better thrower. The switch-hitter, who turned 31 last week, has been an above-average hitter from both sides of the plate in four of the past five years and has clubbed 22 or more home runs each season from 2016-19.

Beyond his offensive acumen, bringing on a catcher with Grandal’s experience and framing abilities could be viewed as an important aspect of the Jays’ development of young pitchers. The Toronto rotation is teeming with uncertainty, but young arms like Anthony Kay, Trent Thornton, Sean Reid-Foley, Jacob Waguespack, Nate Pearson and T.J. Zeuch will all likely log some MLB innings in 2020, and the Jays have several intriguing arms on the horizon beyond that bunch. Newly acquired righty Chase Anderson is surely comfortable with throwing to Grandal as well.

Toronto already has Danny Jansen, Reese McGuire and Luke Maile on the 40-man roster, though the Jays have reportedly been receiving trade interest in some of their backstops. Jansen, in particular, rates out as a brilliant defender and was ranked among the game’s top 100 prospects as recently as last offseason. This year’s .207/.279/.360 batting line wasn’t much to look at, but Jansen is only is still just 24 and has another five seasons of club control remaining.

The Jays shouldn’t be considered any kind of favorite to win the Grandal bidding based on one early meeting, of course. GM Ross Atkins and his staff are surely casting a wide net in free agency and doing their best to gauge interest in a variety of free agents. Knowing Grandal’s asking price could also be important when discussing the Jays’ in-house catchers in trades with other teams and, more broadly, when trying to get a sense for how the rest of the league plans to approach the winter. But the meeting between the two sides is reminder both of the fact that Toronto could be more aggressive than some would expect from a 71-win team and that Grandal will draw interest from unexpected teams between now and his eventual signing.

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Unsurprisingly, there’s interest around baseball in one of the Blue Jays’ talented young catchers. If they choose to, they could afford to let one of them go under the right circumstances.
The Blue Jays have a lot of young talent throughout their organization, so it’s no surprise that rival teams are potentially interested in talking trade at this time of the year.

One of those areas of talent is at catcher, as the Blue Jays have the potential luxury of a catching tandem of Danny Jansen and Reese McGuire that are essentially coming off of their rookie seasons, and both looked more than capable of handling starting duties last season. They both have plenty to prove at the highest level yet, but the future behind the plate looks bright in Toronto.

Not surprisingly, other teams have taken notice of the catching talent north of the border according to, and might be wondering if the Blue Jays would consider trading from an area of strength in order to address other weaknesses. While there’s an argument that they should hold on to both of their backstops for now, and I made one a little while ago, they could also consider making a trade now if the right offer comes along, and they should be set up to handle the loss of one of the pair.

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The first important variable is that they still have Luke Maile under contract for three more seasons through arbitration control if they choose, and he’s certainly a capable back-up and not a bad guy to pair with a young starter. It’s tough to see how he fits with the Blue Jays going forward if they keep both Jansen and McGuire, so I would expect that one of the trio gets dealt sometime this winter, and it’s possible that Maile could be the guy. He wouldn’t bring back anywhere near the type of return the other two would though, which is why that option is on the table.

There’s also the fact that the Blue Jays have some catching talent still coming in their minor league system including Gabriel Moreno (#8), Alejandro Kirk (#12), and Riley Adams, all on their top 30 prospects list. The Blue Jays could choose to trade from their pool of minor league catching depth, but again, it’s about what the return might be.

At this stage it’s hard to say what other teams might be willing to pay. Jansen is coming off an impressive first full season as a starter, but it certainly came with struggles as well. He rated well as a pitch framer and ended up being nominated for a Gold Glove, but he’ll need to improve on his .207/.279/.360 slash line next season and beyond. McGuire’s sample size was a lot smaller, and while it was impressive to say the least, one could argue that he played over his head down the stretch in 2019.

NEXT: Another minor leaguer busted for PED use
With the need for talented and controllable starting pitchers, the only real way I could see the Blue Jays trading Jansen or McGuire is if they can get a worthy starting pitcher back in return. Otherwise, it feels like it’s a little too early to know which one they’ll want to keep, and even if they have their long-term solution just yet. On the other hand, they’re both likeable viewed as quite valuable at the moment, and if the right offer comes along, the Blue Jays can certainly entertain the idea.

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Well, that’s a good question and a fair one. On a day to day basis, I’m not too concerned about the positions. The objective should be to get all your best bats in the lineup as often as possible. Playing a player in their second position or rotating them around isn’t a bad thing. Assuming they’re not a huge detriment defensively, of course. And Moustakas isn’t that at any of the three positions he’s played over his nine-year career.

Up until 2018, he was exclusively a third baseman and had no playing time at any other position. I guess this sort of feeds into another conversation and the growing need for position players that have a few homes around the diamond. The days of players playing one position are dying, aside from the more premier guys in our game. Flexibility is key. It’s why Brandon Drury is even still on this roster. Plus with all the profound shifts we see in-game, a player’s overall fielding tools are more critical. Familiarity on the diamond is essential, too, but I don’t expect anyone on this team to pull a Will Ferrell any time soon. Two or three different positions is enough — more than one at the minimum.

In 2018, Moose saw 35 innings at first base with the Royals, and the results were encouraging. He started 2019 playing second base every day for the Brewers and then made the switch back his usual home of third base at the beginning of May. His stats at both positions were very close to breaking even. He’s a glass-half-full, half-empty type defender. But the versatility that he showed has value.

I know, I know, you’re screaming at me that the Blue Jays already have someone to play third and second base in Cavan Biggio and Guerrero Jr. Well, let’s talk about those players. Vladdy’s defence was a talking point in 2019, and many were left wondering not if, but when his move to first base will happen. I’m not at that point yet. I think he has one of the best arms in the league from the hot corner. Limiting that asset at first so quickly would be a shame.

The main criticism was his conditioning. And it showed in the fielding metrics as well as the number of games he played. Again, I’m not as worried about it as others are, but I can see the concern. Here’s him working out with the gang last month – looking good, Vladdy!

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I have confidence in him. But if for whatever reason he’s not able to play the field full time, then Moustakas is head over heels a better option than Drury.

Now, Biggio is interesting because although he primarily plays second, he comes advertised as being able to play a corner OF spot as well as first base. I’m not suggesting a full-time switch at all. His defence at second wasn’t fantastic, but it was passable. In 735.1 innings, he produced -1 DRS and -0.2 UZR/150. The fact that he can play a few other spots on the diamond is valuable. Whatever composition that gets you the best possible lineup is the one you should roll. But again, as long as it’s not at a huge detriment.

Mike Moustakas isn’t Kendrys Morales, by any means. The DH spot should be used to rotate these guys around and keep them in the lineup while resting their legs. They just aren’t making any more of Nelson Cruz or David Ortiz, unfortunately.

To summarize, if they can find 447 PA for Drury and 143 between Richard Urena, Alen Hanson and Breyvic Valera, then they should have no problem adding Moustakas to the mix.

Overall, hearing names like Moustakas tossed around is a reason to be optimistic. The team has nowhere to go but up, and the front office seems set on adding to the MLB roster. How much is yet to be seen, but baby steps are better than none.

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Both are intriguing options, and they’re expected to generate a whole lot of interest from major-league clubs.

There will be competition, but Atkins is interested and the front office has done their homework on the pair, as well as light-hitting infielder Ryosuke Kikuchi.

“Interesting talents that we’ve spent a lot of time on,” Atkins stated. “(Director of pro scouting) Ryan Mittleman has done a great job and (vice-president of international scouting) Andrew Tinnish has spent time on them, as well. We’ll continue to engage with their representatives and understand if they are potential fits or not. Both ways.”

Positionally, they both fit.

Budget-wise, they all should fit, as well, with none of the trio expected to break the bank.

Tsutsugo, who has mostly played corner outfield while also dabbling at first base and third base over parts of 10 seasons in Japan, will be the most expensive since he’ll have to be posted by the Yokohama DeNA BayStars by Dec. 5, meaning an MLB club will have to pay the release fee as well as the contract.

In addition to a touch of positional versatility — the prevailing thought, however, is that Tsutsugo will be below average no matter where he plays — there’s a lot of power in the bat and his ability to get on base (.382 carer on-base percentage) is especially intriguing for a Blue Jays club looking to improve its approach throughout the lineup.

He also fits in nicely with the young core at the age of 28.

“He’s an impressive hitter,” Atkins said. “A lot of fun to watch and an exciting talent. He’s an interesting player, for sure.”

Kikuchi is in the same boat, as the 5-foot-7, 152-pound second baseman is expected to be posted shortly by the Hiroshima Carp.

A top-notch glove, Kikuchi’s .261/.313/.406 slash line in his age-29 season this past year leaves a lot to be desired and he seems destined for a utility role, which isn’t necessarily a need for the Blue Jays.

Akiyama, on the other hand, is eligible for straight up free agency as a 31-year-old, and comes with an interesting blend of pop, speed and defence, slashing .303/.392/.471 with 55 extra-base hits and 12 stolen bases this season.

The markets for all three players could take a while to develop, and that might be exactly what Atkins is hoping for, as the 46-year-old general manager has clearly stated his preference is to take care of the rotation before moving on to position players and bullpen help.

Blue Jays have decisions to make with offseason priorities
With needs in various positions throughout their lineup, what is the top priority for the Blue Jays this offseason? Could they potentially look internationally for some help? TSN Blue Jays reporter Scott Mitchell weighs in.

“The more we talk about our strategy publicly, the worse it is for our strategy or our ability to execute it,” Atkins said Wednesday at the Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Montelucia. “I think the good thing about our situation right is the flexibility we do have to be agile.”

Despite some believing teams will try to get out ahead of things and set the market in certain areas, this off-season seems to be shaping up similarly to the past couple of years as teams are content to investigate trades and wait out free agents.

“It’s hard to say,” Atkins said. “I think if I had to pick one of two it’s probably closer to the last few years that we’ve seen. A lot of teams are focused on trades because of how many GMs are in this room over this week and there are a very large number of agents here, as well, but not to the same level of the winter meetings. I think there’s some pattern to it, but that also creates opportunity to think about creative ways to potentially find value in different ways.”


Versatility is en vogue in today’s game, and the Blue Jays have one player that will allow them to do different things in free agency if they wish.

That’s Cavan Biggio.

When he arrived in the big leagues in May, the Jays tried to make things simple for the 24-year-old by keeping him at second base as much as possible.

Biggio held his own at the keystone, posting a minus-1 Defensive Runs Saved mark in 84 starts.

Generally seen as a potential super-utility type while coming through the system, he’s made a case to be the everyday guy at second base, rather than bouncing around.

But his ability to play the outfield and first base gives Atkins some flexibility and the option to add a second baseman and shift Biggio around.

“He’s proven to us that he can be an everyday second baseman,” Atkins said. “Nothing’s ever done, etched in stone, he’s got a career ahead of him and a lot of things could transpire, but we’re confident in saying we feel he has the ability to do that. He also is extremely confident in playing other positions and going into the outfield. That just gives us more opportunity.”

Atkins also mentioned outfielder Teoscar Hernandez could potentially work at first base this winter, and stated the club hasn’t ruled out left fielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. returning to the infield from time to time.

The GM also noted shortstop Bo Bichette, who cleared concussion protocol on the final day of the season back in September, and Gurriel, who had his appendix removed, are both 100 per cent and working out fully this off-season.


Bullpens are always in flux and the Blue Jays’ relief corps is no different.

With teams focusing on starting pitching, there hasn’t been much Ken Giles trade talk at the GM meetings in Scottsdale, and a trade does not seem imminent.

The Blue Jays would be completely comfortable going into the season with Giles as their closer once again, giving them a shutdown arm at the back end of the bullpen.

Aside from Giles, right-handers Sam Gaviglio, Anthony Bass, Wilmer Font and Derek Law, Justin Shafer and Jordan Romano are all on the 40-man roster, but more proven depth will be needed.

“We’re going to need to add there,” Atkins said. “What we do feel good about is the depth of our 40-man roster, the number of guys that could potentially help our major-league team that will potentially be in Triple-A. We feel like we have a number of guys that will stabilize our bullpen a bit, but we’ll be looking to increase that level of execution with higher-leverage arms that have experience doing that. The starting pitching acquisitions that we, hopefully, make will have some impact on that at the same time.”

With Tim Mayza (elbow) out for the entire 2020 season, there could be a need for a left-hander, but Atkins doesn’t believe it’s a priority since you can find right-handers who can get lefties out.

“We haven’t been big on situational left-handed relievers,” Atkins said. “We like guys that can get multiple outs and we’ve, for the most part, deployed even our left-handed relievers that way. I think the industry, really, is using the situational reliever less and less.”


One area of depth at both the major-league level and within the system for the Blue Jays is behind the plate.

Rival teams seem to realize that, as well, and Atkins has been fielding calls on Danny Jansen and Reese McGuire, while also hoarding prospects Riley Adams, Alejandro Kirk and Gabriel Moreno in the minors.

That depth could be used to add a starter in a trade at some point this winter.

“Yeah, we do feel that we do have some depth and other teams have let us know that by talking to us about those areas, our outfield as well,” Atkins said. “It could be an area that creates opportunities for us.”

Gurriel and, to a lesser extent, Hernandez would be the outfielders Atkins is talking about.

Other than that, there isn’t much outfield depth to speak of, but there’s an abundance of corner outfielders on the free-agent market that could be intriguing if Atkins deals one away.


With his first year as a big-league manager in the books, Charlie Montoyo showed up at the GM meetings on Tuesday, making the two-hour drive from his home in Tucson.

There was no real reason for the visit, other than to listen in on some conversations, provide input, and have a presence.

“A big factor is we want to spend as much time as we can together, and we’re a team,” Atkins said. “Any opportunities that we have to do that, we will, and him living in Tucson made that a bit easier. I think there’s a couple of other managers that are here, actually. But we’re doing this together. That’s the biggest reason.”

Much more at ease in his role now, Montoyo is confident the front office will be busy this off-season.

“Talking to agents, talking to players,” Montoyo said of what he’s been doing. “We met with players (Tuesday). We’ve been really aggressive talking to people, to teams, and that’s been fun for me to see and I appreciate Ross wanting me to be part of this process.”

It wasn’t a shocking development to hear Montoyo say they’re prioritizing starting pitching and despite being a big supporter of the opener as a way of getting through a long season, watching the playoffs gave him a reminder of how important it is to have arms that can pitch deep into games.

“The teams that got the horses, the starters that can take you deep in games, they win in the playoffs most of the time — and that’s what we saw,” Montoyo said. “The two teams that were in the World Series, they had those horses starting games and so they have a chance to win every game, every day. So that’s what I saw. Something that you all know. At the end of the day, you need those guys to win games. The starters that take you deep in games.”

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TORONTO — The Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame pulled Kelly Gruber from its induction weekend festivities after the former Toronto Blue Jays third baseman made an awkward appearance during a Pitch Talks panel discussion a day earlier.

Gruber was briefly on stage at the Homestand Sports event Thursday night with host Ashley Docking and Rogers Sportsnet broadcaster Kevin Barker in Toronto. In a joint statement Friday, the Hall of Fame and Pitch Talks said the proceedings were stopped 45 minutes early because of Gruber’s “unacceptable and inappropriate behavior.”

“Basically what happened was by the time he got on stage he appeared to be inebriated,” Homestand Sports founder Kevin Kennedy said. “He was just acting sort of obnoxious, kind of erratic, he was confrontational with our host, Ashley, and quite quickly I knew that this wasn’t going in the right direction.”

Gruber was one of several former Blue Jays chosen to participate in various Hall events in the lead-up to Saturday’s ceremony in Ontario, where former major league stars Pedro Martinez and Lloyd Moseby will be inducted along with baseball historian William Humber.

Gruber’s representative, Don Graham, emailed a statement from the former player to The Canadian Press on Friday evening.

“There’s two sides to every story and I would love to tell mine,” Gruber said. “Maybe what I said was taken the wrong way. My intention for being there was to honor my teammate and buddy Lloyd, and the interview part went south for a variety of reasons which I will detail at a later date.”

The 56-year-old Gruber made his big league debut with the Blue Jays in 1984. He won a World Series with Toronto in 1992 and ended his career with the Angels the following year.