Category Archives: Blue Jays Jerseys 2019

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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.”

ROLES STILL BEING DEFINED

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.

BULLPEN DEPTH NEEDED

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.”

CATCHERS DRAWING INTEREST

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.

MONTOYO MAKES A VISIT

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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Four Years Ago Today

The Blue Jays won game 4 of the ALDS over the Rangers.

The Jays had lost the first two game of the series and faced an uphill battle. We won this one pretty easily, 8-4, scoring early and often.

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From the recap:

It started off perfect. Ben Revere put down a great bunt single and Josh Donaldson followed with a home run. Then a Colabello home run put us up 3-0, before the Rangers had their first at bat.

Second inning: Kevin Pillar hits a solo homer.

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Third inning: Donaldson walk, Jose Bautista double followed by a Edwin Encarnacion ground out (Bautista tried to go second to third but Elvis Andrus decoyed him and got him at third), scoring Josh. Colabello doubled bringing home another. A Russell Martin walk and a Pillar single and we were up 7-1.

One more run in the seventh got us to 8.

There was a bit of controversy, R.A. Dickey started and went 4.2 innings allowing 5 hits, no walks, 3 strikeouts and just one earned run. He hadn’t run up his pitch count. He was sitting at 78 pitches. But Gibby pulled him one out before he could have had a playoff win on his record.

Gibby brought in David Price. Why? Well, Price hadn’t pitched well in the playoffs in his career. In game one Price allowed 5 runs in 7 innings. I don’t understand making decisions based on small sample sizes like that, Price, coming over at the deadline went 9-1 with a 2.30 ERA.

Jesse Barfield turns 60 today and R.A. Dickey turns 45.

Jesse Barfield was one of my favorite players.

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He was a 9th round pick in the 1977 amateur draft, the first year the Jays (and Mariners) were part of the draft. MLB gave them the last two picks of each round (the big hearted folks they are).

Jesse made it up to the majors in 1981 and spent 9 years with the Blue Jays. He’s near the top of the franchise leader boards in several categories:

4rd in WAR among position players, 29.4
2nd in defensive WAR, 9.2
9th in slugging average, .483
11th in games played, 1032
7th in home runs, 179
9th in RBI, 527
As well as having a great bat, he was a terrific defensive player, with a strong and accurate arm in right field. There are a lot great little stories about Jesse’s arm, that he could stand at the plate and throw the ball over the center field wall. I remember seeing him catching a line drive on a bounce, throw to first and get the batter out at first, more than once. Barfield lead the AL in assists 3 years in a row (1985 to 87) which was more amazing because teams didn’t run on Barfield’s arm. He also had 8 outfield double plays in 1985 (and 21 from 1985-1987), better than most teams would get in a season.

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He, Lloyd Moseby and George Bell played together for several season and were easily the best outfield we’ve ever had. Jesse won two Gold Gloves, one Silver Slugger and made the All-Star team once as a Blue Jay.

He was traded to the Yankees in 1989 for Al Leiter, not one of our better trades.

I got a signed ball from him in Cooperstown when we were there for the induction of Roy Halladay. He looks the same as he did back when he played.

Jesse has been pretty active on twitter of late, @JesseBarfield29

Happy birthday Jesse, I hope it is a good one.

But with just game 5 left in the series, presuming the Jays would go on to win this one, Gibby had decided that Marcus Stroman would make the final start. And I guess Gibby wanted to get ahead of any potential controversy over that choice.

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Personally I would have liked to have Price in the pen for game 5, just in case Marcus didn’t have it that day. And I would have liked to let Dickey get the win he earned. I didn’t understand why we’d want to use up a pitcher when Dickey could have gone 6-7 innings and kept us with a rested pen for game 5.

Gibby’s stated reasoning:

Anyway, 2 outs, in the 5th inning, with a runner on first, there was a 95% chance of a win. It’s the definition of a low leverage spot. Shin-Soo Choo, a lefty was up, and Gibby did say something about Choo hitting Dickey well. A quick look at Baseball Reference, yeah he has 5 singles and a double, plus 3 walks in 16 PA. So, he sort of hits Dickey well, but 16 PA is a very small sample and I wish Gibby wouldn’t use small samples as an excuse to make a pitching move.

A better reason for the move is that Choo hits right-handers well. RA isn’t your normal right-hander, but that reasoning would, at least, be reasonable.

I wrote more about it:

The reasons to bring in Price yesterday:

The main one is that he warmed up. Once he warmed up, he really had to get into the game. As much as that’s circular thinking, I got him up to warm, well once he’s warm he has to go in the game. As manager, Gibby controls whether he warms up or not.

Maybe, to shut down controversy. If Price didn’t pitch then, if you pick Stroman to start Wednesday’s game, you are picking him over a Cy Young candidate. That seems wrong somehow. So, you pitch Price in the game before and no more controversy. I think it is a silly reason. If you picked Stroman, have the courage of your convictions and don’t listen to me when I say ‘the guy that you traded for to pitch in games like this has to get the start’.

Because the Astros lost, after having a big lead, earlier in the day. I saw this on Twitter a hundred times. That’s working way too hard to justify the move. First, I don’t think the Astros lost because they didn’t pull their starter in the 5th inning with a 6 run lead. Second, I have confidence in RA. I really didn’t think Price going in made it more or less likely that we would win.

But Grant Brisbee put it better:

An appeal to authority is all we have. Because if this isn’t a carefully measured decision, something beyond the idea that Price is weak in the postseason, something that isn’t an overreaction to a bad start, it has a chance to be remembered in 30 years. It has a chance to be one of the great what-were-you-thinking baseball decisions of our time.

As it turned out, Marcus had a good game in game 5. 6 innings, 2 runs allowed (3 earned) leaving with us down a run. He left with the game tied at 2.

And the the 7th inning was wild (but that’s a story for another day).

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TORONTO – Patrick Murphy turned the corner in late April after a trying start to the season, moving off a fastball-happy beginning at double-A New Hampshire and finding a better mix between his heater, curveball and changeup. As the gems piled up – eight innings of two-hit ball versus Reading; seven innings of one-hit ball versus Portland; seven innings and 10 Ks in a return engagement with Reading – the 24-year-old right-hander became a regular part of the conversations about how fill the latest pitching need for the Toronto Blue Jays.

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So, a promotion to the big-leagues appeared to be on the horizon, only for the latest hurdle to pop up on Murphy’s already obstacle-filled career path – a delivery deemed illegal that had to be reset, a process that’s halted his progress as he works on it now.

“I’ve had some crazy stuff happen, this is probably the craziest thing that people don’t understand,” Murphy says in an interview. “But I’ll figure it out and it’ll just be another story to tell.”

Murphy was first put on alert in May, when an umpiring crew informed him a toe-tap before he plants his drive leg was being reviewed by the Major League Baseball Umpires Association. This is what it looked like:

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The umpires were checking if it was in violation of Rule 5.07(a), which reads: “The pitcher may not take a second step toward home plate with either foot or otherwise reset his pivot foot in his delivery of the pitch.” Violations are punished by the calling of automatic ball with the bases empty or a balk with runners on.

In the interim, they told Murphy to continue doing his thing. On June 2, he threw what he felt might have been the best game of not only his season, but perhaps his career, when he needed only 70 pitches for seven innings of five-hit dominance over Altoona. But rather than to celebrating afterwards, he was left reeling when the umpires dropped the hammer on him.

“They came up to me and said, ‘Hate to break the news to you, but today was the last day you can toe-tap. It’s officially illegal, you have to change it,’” says Murphy. “They said, ‘Whatever we enforce on the big-league side we’re going to enforce on the minor-league side,’ so it’s not something I have to change once I get there. It’s something I’ve got to figure it out now.”

Suddenly, Murphy went from pushing toward the big-leagues to scrambling at the drawing board. He tried to stay on turn while making a quickie adjustment, but was roughed up for five runs in 2.1 innings against Richmond on June 7 and eight runs in four innings versus Bowie on June 13, before the Blue Jays pulled him back while he figured things out.

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He’s now throwing bullpens every other day, trying to gain consistency with a similar motion but rather than tapping his toe – something he did for timing and balance rather than trying to deceive hitters – he hovers over the ground.

The change seems subtle. The change feels significant.

“It sounds pretty silly but it’s something you repeat hundreds of times a day for a few years. It becomes muscle memory, your internal clock, everything gets thrown off,” says Murphy. “I feel like I’m doing something entirely different. Everyone watching it says it looks pretty similar, I’m just not touching the ground. If that’s the case, it’s totally fine, because that’s the only thing I’m not allowed to do. But it feels like I’m doing something totally different.”

Murphy is far from the only one to get caught in a crackdown on violations of Rule 5.07(a). With more pitchers trying to disrupt hitters’ timing by varying their deliveries, umpires are on watch. One of the more prominent cases was that of Chicago Cubs reliever Carl Edwards, who reworked his delivery to include a hitch but abandoned it when the Texas Rangers cried foul.

Patrick Murphy was added to the 40-man roster, back in November, to protect him from the Rule 5 draft.

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He was our 3rd round pick in the 2013 draft. He missed pitching in his senior year because of Tommy John surgery and then he had a grand total of 4 innings over 2014 and 2015, with more surgeries (thoracic outlet syndrome surgery and then having a nerve moved in his elbow). Good to get all the injuries out of the way before getting to the majors,

In 2016 he pitched 90.2 innings, putting up a 3.18 ERA, but then a 17.1% strikeout rate didn’t thrill us.

2017 he pitched 106.2 innings, with a 3.04 ERA but again a 17.2% strikeout rate didn’t send him to the top of our prospect list.

Last year he pitched 152.2 inning, had a 2.65 ERA and his strikeout rate jumped to 22.5% and he jumped up to number 13 on our prospect list. Pretty good considering the influx of prospects who have been added to the system.

Why the improvement in strikeouts? Baseball America tells us:

His velocity has increased over the year, now sitting at 92-95 mph with good movement and reaching 98 mph. He pairs it with a curveball that’s still inconsistent but flashes plus. Murphy has tinkered with different grips on his changeup and tried throwing it more often in 2018, but it’s still a firm, below-average pitch and a key point for his development.

With the lost seasons, he’s a little behind. Patrick turns 24 in June and he’s pitched 6 innings in Double A.

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In a FanGraphs story, Murphy talks about his curveball saying:

“Growing up, it was always my favorite pitch,” said the Chandler, Arizona, native. “I’ve been throwing it for a while. Omar Daal was one of my coaches in club ball — this is when I was around 12, 13, 14 — and he helped me out with it a lot. Blas Minor was my high-school pitching coach, and I learned a lot from him, too.”

Maybe he is a cautionary tale for learning to throw a curveball young. When my boys were young and in little league us coaches were warned about not talking to the boys about curves.

Where is he going to pitch this year?

He finished last year with a start in New Hampshire, so I’d imagine he’ll spend most of the season there. We have an overload of pitchers could start the year at Buffalo.

Will we see him in Toronto?

Partrick is on the 40-man, so it could happen. There are a half dozen guys in front of him who will be waiting for that needed spot start. But if he’s pitching well and if they need a spot start that lines up with his turn in the rotation. We have 21 pitchers on the 40-man roster and 3 others (Axford, Buchholtz and Norris) who will be put on the 40-man (of course there will be pitchers coming off the 40-man to make room for those 3) but the battle for a spot start will be at least half a dozen guys deep.

Next year, presuming he has a decent 2019, he should be in the running for a rotation spot.

While there’s a clear second step there, Murphy’s toe tap looks more like a drag than a step.

“Just the tip of my cleat,” says Murphy. “I guess they decided that it counts as a second step towards home and that’s illegal, even though it’s not a full step. I don’t know. It’s out of my control, so I have to roll with the punches and figure something out as fast as I can. It’s pretty unfortunate that it happened mid-season. If it was during the off-season, I’d have more time to work on it, obviously, and be able to come in with something new. But if I have to adjust on the fly and pick something up as fast as I can because I don’t want to lose much time or suffer (bad) results in a crucial season.”

Originally Murphy, a native of Chandler, Ariz., modelled his delivery off that of Clayton Kershaw, who has a similar hitch with his foot but doesn’t ultimately touch the ground.

Now, he’s simply trying to find something that’s comfortable and he can repeat consistently in the heat of the moment, under pressure. In the starts he made post-ruling “I was all over the place, every pitch was something different,” he says.

For someone who has already undergone three surgeries – Tommy John, thoracic outlet and a procedure to move a nerve in his elbow – and suffered a stress fracture in his arm, there was little sense in taking chances with messy mechanics. The goal is for him to get back on the mound before the Eastern League’s all-star break July 8-10.

“I’m having to train my body and mind, internal clock, get everything on board and in sync, and I have to do it as quick as possible, obviously, because I don’t have a lot of time in season,” says Murphy. “I don’t want to get hurt out there, risk injury, mess up my arm doing something different on every pitch. So let’s slow it down and find something I can repeat.”

Triple-A Buffalo Bisons
The promotion of Cavan Biggio leaves Bo Bichette as the last of the current wave of top prospects with the Bisons. The sense is that he needs a solid stretch there before debuting in the majors. … Left-hander Matt Dermody, who appeared in some games for the Blue Jays in 2016 and ’17, rejoined Buffalo as he works his way back from Tommy John surgery. … Lefty Thomas Pannone is being stretched out as a starter in Buffalo after working out of the Blue Jays bullpen for most of the season.

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Pick an award, and Parker probably won it. He won the National League Most Valuable Player Award in 1978. He was a seven-time All-Star, a three-time Gold Glover and a three-time Silver Slugger. Parker won back-to-back NL batting titles. He was the All-Star Game MVP in 1979. And Parker was a two-time World Series champion, with the Pirates in ’79 and the A’s a decade later. That’s a lot of accolades, and a lot of different kinds of accolades, and they were no accident. Parker was an elite all-around player.

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Parker showcased that against the best competition. To win the All-Star Game MVP in 1979, he threw out Jim Rice at third base and Brian Downing at the plate. When Parker led the “We Are Family” Bucs to a World Series championship later that year, he hit .341 in the postseason and .345 against the Orioles in the Fall Classic, while also throwing out the go-ahead run at the plate in the sixth inning of a one-run win in Game 2.

2. At his best, he ranked among the best
Check out Parker’s numbers from his 1978 NL MVP Award-winning season for the Pirates: 30 home runs, 20 stolen bases, 117 RBIs, an MLB-leading .334 batting average and .979 OPS, an NL-leading .585 slugging. The year before, he’d led the NL with a .338 batting average and 215 hits.

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Parker closed out the 1970s with a five-year peak run from ’75-79 in which …
• His 345 extra-base hits trailed only Hall of Famers Rice and Mike Schmidt.
• His 942 hits ranked sixth behind Pete Rose, Steve Garvey, Rice, Rod Carew and George Brett.
• His .321 batting average ranked second to Carew, his .532 slugging percentage ranked third behind George Foster and Rice, and his .909 OPS ranked third behind Foster and Rice.
• He led the Majors with 72 outfield assists, ahead of Dwight Evans and Dave Winfield.

3. He has numbers that stand up
Parker retired after 19 big league seasons as a .290 hitter, with 2,712 career hits, 940 extra-base hits, 339 home runs, 1,493 RBIs, 154 stole bases and 143 outfield assists.

There are 26 right fielders in the Hall of Fame. Parker would rank 15th out of that group in hits — ahead of, for example, recent strong-armed inductee Vladimir Guerrero (2,590). He’d rank 10th in extra-base hits, 11th in homers and 13th in RBIs.

Parker’s 143 outfield assists, meanwhile, are tied for eighth-most of any player to debut in the divisional era (since 1969).

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Among all Hall of Famers, Parker would rank just outside the top 50 in hits (right behind Lou Gehrig), 44th in RBIs (right behind Guerrero) and 38th in extra-base hits (just ahead of Eddie Mathews and Ivan Rodriguez).

4. He persevered
Parker’s pinnacle was his 1978 MVP season and ’79 World Series run, the early part of his career, when he looked like he was on the path to surefire all-time greatness as Roberto Clemente’s successor in right field in Pittsburgh. All of that was nearly derailed by injuries, weight gain and off-the-field issues during the early ’80s. But Parker revitalized his career after signing with his hometown Reds in December 1983.

In Cincinnati, Parker returned to star form with back-to-back top-five NL MVP Award finishes in 1985 and ’86, including a runner-up finish in ’85, when he belted a career-high 34 homers and led the league with 125 RBIs. Parker’s last All-Star season was in ’90, at age 39 with the Brewers, 13 years after his first with the Bucs. He won his final Silver Slugger Award that year, too.

On top of that, Evans was an eight-time Gold Glove winner compared to zero for Rice, with one of the best right-field arms of any era. Evans lasted longer and got on base more, but Rice trumped him in fame and fear factor as an MVP winner and RBI guy.

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Candidates for the Modern Era ballot – which includes players not elected by the BBWAA, plus executives, managers, umpires and owners – are selected by an 11-person committee of veteran writers and historians. The 16-person Hall of Fame Board-appointed electorate will review the ballot and vote at the winter meetings in San Diego on December 8. That electorate consists of Hall of Fame players and executives, plus veteran writers. Future committees:

2021: Golden Age (1950 to 1969) and Early Baseball (pre-1950)
2022: Today’s Game (since 1988)
2023: Modern Baseball (1970 to 1987)
2024: Today’s Game
2025: Modern Baseball
2026: Golden Age

In terms of career WAR, Evans fits right in with some other big-name right fielders:

Tony Gwynn: 69.2

Evans: 67.1

Dave Winfield: 64.2

Vladimir Guerrero: 59.4

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Case against: Evans was a late bloomer who had his breakout season when he was 29. Similar to Whitaker, he doesn’t rate as high in peak value, with just four seasons of 5+ WAR. He was a career .272 hitter who hit .300 just once and topped 30 home runs just twice.

Chance of election: Low. I love that Evans finally gets on the ballot with a chance to have his case discussed. He’s criminally underrated and had a remarkable nine-year run from 1981 to ’89 when he hit .291/.388/.498, an OPS+ of 139. For the entire decade, he ranks 16th among position players in WAR — 12 of the 15 ahead of him are in the Hall of Fame. Evans is a personal favorite and has a very good case, but the fact that it’s taken him this long just to get on the ballot likely suggests his support isn’t strong (although the 16-person committee that will vote is different from the overview committee that selects the ballot).

The case against

1. He didn’t hit the milestones
Parker’s career numbers are very good, but are they really Hall of Fame-worthy? He’s not in the 3,000-hit club. He didn’t reach 400 home runs. He wasn’t a career .300 hitter. Round numbers aren’t everything, but Parker doesn’t really have that one standout stat or milestone number that screams “Hall of Fame.”

2. Cooperstown levels
Wins Above Replacement is far from a be-all, end-all stat for Hall of Fame worthiness. But it’s a good quick benchmark of how a player performed over his career, and Parker is pretty far below the typical Hall of Famer.

The average WAR for Hall of Fame position players is 69, according to Baseball Reference. For Hall of Fame right fielders, it’s 71.5. Parker’s career WAR was 40.1. That’s about a 30 WAR difference, which is a lot.

Recent right-field inductees like Guerrero (59.4 WAR) and Tony Gwynn (69.2) easily exceed Parker. So do Parker’s outfield contemporaries who were elected, like Andre Dawson (64.8), Winfield (64.2) and Reggie Jackson (74.0). But Parker does have the edge over 2019 Today’s Game inductee Harold Baines (38.7).

3. Was he elite for long enough?
Parker’s resurgence with the Reds was impressive, but does it get him to the Hall? As good as he was in 1985 and ’86, and as a 39-year-old in ’90, Parker’s stardom might have been too sporadic once his late-’70s run was over.

Parker had four seasons with a .900 OPS or higher; only one came after the 1970s. He had six seasons hitting .300 or better, and five seasons slugging .500 or better; only one of each came after the ’70s. Four of his five highest extra-base hit totals were in the ’70s, as were each of his four highest stolen base totals.

It’s not that Parker was unproductive after that amazing half-decade for the Pirates. But the majority of his career came after that one sustained superstar run. Did he have Hall of Fame consistency?

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The Blue Jays can retain Matt Shoemaker for the 2020 season, and based on his performance and veteran leadership it should be a no-brainer decision.
Over the last couple of seasons the Blue Jays have gotten a lot younger in a hurry in an effort to rebuild their roster. It was a necessary transition after relying on a veteran roster for many years, and already we’re seeing the potential that a future with Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, and others could be very exciting.

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As loaded with potential as the young offence could be even in 2020, it’s no secret that the Blue Jays have a need in their starting rotation, and one of the best solutions is right at their fingertips in Matt Shoemaker. The 33-year-old veteran has one year of arbitration eligibility remaining, which means the Blue Jays can retain his services for the 2020 season. That much should be a no-brainer, even if he’s coming off another lost season to injury.

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For those who may have forgotten, the veteran was fantastic in his first five starts with the Blue Jays before he tore his ACL, ending his 2019 campaign. He finished up with a 1.57 ERA and a 0.872 WHIP over 28.2 innings, already earning 1.2 bWAR in that limited amount of time. After a few seasons of battling forearm troubles in L.A., it looked like the veteran was finally going to reach his potential as a big leaguer, and it was a shame to see the freak injury take him out.

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It was a pretty heart-breaking scene when Shoemaker went down in April, pounding his fist into the ground in frustration and showing the fans that he knew the injury was serious. You couldn’t blame him in that moment for being human and letting out his frustrations, especially after all he had been through to get back on the mound before the 2019 season even began.

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However, it didn’t take long for Shoemaker to show another one of the reasons he’s a special player to have in your clubhouse, and why the Blue Jays need to retain him for at least next year. Despite being given all kinds of reasons to give up or to wallow in self-pity, the Michigan native vowed to return stronger than ever on social media the day after the injury.

Matt Shoemaker

@MattShoe52
Stay strong and keep fighting.

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And thankfully it appears that his rehab has wrapped up and gone well, which is certainly an encouraging sign. Shoemaker only tweeted about a dozen times between the injury and this past week, but lately he’s been letting fans know that he’s feeling great and that he’s excited about returning to the mound next year.

Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Matt Shoemaker took to social media yesterday to inform his followers he threw his first bullpen sessions this week and felt great in the process.
Matt Shoemaker suffered a torn ACL near the end of April and missed the majority of the Blue Jays 2019 campaign as a result of the injury. The 33-year old was impressive in his five starts prior to the injury posting a 3-0 record with a 1.57 earned run average over 28.2 innings of work.

Shoemaker has a final year of arbitration eligibility before hitting the open market in 2021. MLB Trade Rumors has projected that the hurler will earn $3.8 million next season. With the Blue Jays current need for starting pitching, it would seem more than likely the brain trust will keep Shoemaker in the fold for next season.

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Matt Shoemaker

@MattShoe52
I threw my first bullpens this week, and man did they feel great! I couldn’t be more excited to get back out there!

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Shoemaker has only appeared in 26 games over the past three seasons due to an assortment of injuries. Thankfully, his latest setback was not arm related and should not affect him moving forward.

In 106 career games over seven seasons, Shoemakers owns a 43-32 record with a 3.81 earned run average with a 7.0 WAR in 573.2 innings.

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The Jays currently have Shoemaker, Ryan Borucki, and Trent Thornton penciled into the rotation with the likes of Jacob Waguespack, Anthony Kay, T.J. Zeuch, Thomas Pannone and Sean Reid-Foley all vying for spots.

If the team plans on improving on their 67-95 record from last season they will need to get creative in free agency and via trades to bolster the rotation. The current cast of arms will not take them to the next level.

Nate Pearson is waiting in the wings and nearly MLB ready, however, he will likely begin the season in Triple-A Buffalo until service time is no longer an issue.

NEXT: Blue Jays: Why extensions may have to wait
Regardless, it is encouraging that Shoemaker appears healthy and ready to contribute out of the gate next season.

Matt Shoemaker

@MattShoe52
I threw my first bullpens this week, and man did they feel great! I couldn’t be more excited to get back out there!

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And another update on Saturday:

Matt Shoemaker

@MattShoe52
We did it baby! It’s so great to be finished rehabbing my knee, and I’m definitely stronger and better for it. Thank you all for your love and support. I couldn’t be more excited to get back out there! See you all soon. ⚾️

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You can’t help but root for the guy, and I really think his perseverance and determination is exactly the type of veteran leadership the Blue Jays should be looking for right now. What better example than a man who has faced repeated setbacks only to hit the rehab room with enthusiasm each time, somehow maintaining a positive attitude through what likely felt like Groundhog day to the runner up for the 2014 AL Rookie of the Year Award.

NEXT: Stroman throws shade at his former team
I don’t think it’s fair for us to expect a sub 2.00 ERA in 2020, but I have almost no doubt that Shoemaker will be a more than worthwhile gamble to help shore up the rotation, especially on what will likely be a modest raise from the 3.5 million he made this season. Even if he struggles to stay to perform or with his health going forward, his ‘never give up’ attitude is the type of influence that can go a long way for a young roster like the Blue Jay have right now. For all the reasons I’ve mentioned and more, I’m sure he’ll be back next season, and I’ll definitely be rooting for one of my new favourite players.

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Sean Reid- Foley has struggled to find consistency.

Reid -Foley was drafted in the second round of the 2014 draft by the Blue Jays. He spent 2014-2018 working his way through the Blue Jays minor league system, struggling at times and at other times showing his potential.

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SRF made his MLB debut on August 13, 2018, against the Kansas City Royals, allowing three runs over 5 innings. He earned his first major league win on September 2nd against the Florida Marlins, pitching seven strong innings giving up 1 run on 4 hits with a walk and 10 strikeouts. SRF struck out 10 again on September 15 vs the playoff-bound New York Yankees. While his overall numbers weren’t pretty (2-4 with a 5.13 era and 4.96 FIP), the potential could be seen.

The hope was that he could take the next step in 2019. The Blue Jays were a team desperate for pitching and adding to the future of the team’s rotation. Unfortunately for the Blue Jays and for Sean Reid-Foley things didn’t unfold that way.

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If anything, he regressed in 2019. The right-hander once again split time between the Blue Jays and the AAA Buffalo Bisons. SRF traveled up the QEW three times in 2019, going 2-4 in 9 games with Toronto. He 4.26ERA was better than it was in 2018 but his FIP jumped to 5.68.

When Reese McGuire joined the Blue Jays’ roster at the end of July, the 24-year-old catcher had no doubt that he could excel at the highest level, but there were few others who could have foreseen a .299/.346/.526 slash line with five homers, seven doubles and 11 RBIs in McGuire’s 30 big league games, especially after he didn’t fare well statistically at Triple-A Buffalo.

• McGuire makes case for more permanent role

“I didn’t like him on both sides of the ball in Buffalo, but that’s why you keep an open mind,” one scout said. “Not only was he hot up there in a way, but he showed some bat speed. He can drive the ball, he showed some power, and with the athleticism, he’s going to be fine behind the plate because he has good hands and feet, and arm strength.”

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While McGuire certainly began to make his case to the Blue Jays’ brass, the strides Danny Jansen made behind the plate are also in the conversation. And though the 24-year-old struggled at the dish, hitting .207/.279/.360 with 13 homers, 12 doubles and a triple in 107 games, Jansen’s numbers are skewed by an incredibly difficult start to the season, which he’s learned from and hopes to use as he moves forward.

Jansen’s solo home run
Jansen’s solo home run
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“I hold myself to a very high standard, but when I wasn’t playing well, I was still getting thrown in the lineup and I was able to learn,” Jansen said. “I’ve learned so much about myself, knowing I can be here, I can make a difference, I can make an impact, and I can be one of the best catchers in the game. I want to be. I want to win a Gold Glove, I want to win a World Series.”

Toronto manager Charlie Montoyo enjoyed getting to know his young backstops and see them split time at the end of the season, and he indicated that while there is a possibility to use a tandem catching system, “It’s an open competition.” — Alexis

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What player do you think will surprise in Spring Training and earn a job? Is there another bunch of rookies like this year’s to watch out for?
– Allan F.

There won’t be another wave like Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette and Cavan Biggio in 2020, but it’s coming eventually. The Blue Jays’ Top 10 prospects as ranked by MLB Pipeline in the lower Minors features No. 2 Jordan Groshans and No. 3 Alek Manoah.

When looking for Top 30 prospects who will get a look in Spring Training, the list shrinks a bit. Infielder Kevin Smith (No. 13) is coming off a down season in Double-A after a strong 2018 campaign, but the organization remains high on him. Right-handers Patrick Murphy (No. 17), Hector Perez (No. 22) and Yennsy Diaz (No. 23) also bring plenty of raw arm talent, but it would be a surprise to see them crack the Opening Day roster.

Will Anthony Kay step up as a legitimate, mid-rotation starter as early as next spring? Will Trent Thornton carry over his late-season success and become a more consistent rotation option? Will Ryan Borucki hit the ground running and show more of what he did in 2018? Surprised might be too strong, but any of those would qualify as a “welcome development” for the Blue Jays, let’s say.

The 102-mph throwing elephant in the room, of course, is Nate Pearson, the No. 1 prospect in the organization and No. 10 in Major League Baseball. Like Vladdy in 2019, Pearson will be the story of the spring in 2020. No pitcher in the organization rivals his talent and, while it’s likelier that he starts the season in Triple-A, it will surprise no one when he mows through the Grapefruit League. — Keegan

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Alexis Brudnicki
@baseballexis
· Oct 14, 2019
Happy Canadian Thanksgiving! To celebrate the occasion, I am making another call to solicit questions for this week’s #BlueJays Inbox, so get to typing away at all of the words about what you are hoping to glean about the Blue Jays this off-season!

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What move do the Jays do first?; are they trading more or signing more? Any word on Smoak or are we getting Rowdy?

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The Blue Jays will look to acquire players through trades and free agency, as they aim to bolster the young core they displayed throughout the season. General Manager Ross Atkins indicated that first base is one area where the club might continue searching for some versatility, and he didn’t rule out any potential options.

“[Justin] Smoak will remain an option,” Atkins said of the impending free agent. “It would be nice to consider alternatives that are more flexible, and play other positions as well. We’ll have to factor that in as we acquire position players, how that impacts playing time for certain individuals and their continued growth and development.” — ­Alexis

Per Fangraphs, he already possesses two above-average MLB pitches. Both his fastball and slider are rated 55 grade (just above average) with the potential to improve to 60. He also throws a curveball and changeup, but neither are considered above-average pitches. It may be that his best role will be a relief pitcher. That way he could focus on his best pitches and eliminate those that aren’t as effective.

Reid-Foley’s swing and miss potential are enticing. In parts of 6 MiLB seasons, he posted a 10.1K/9. So far in the majors, he has done almost as well with a 9.7K/9. However, a closer look at these numbers reveals a concerning trend. In 2018, his K/9 was an impressive 11.34. In 2019, it dropped significantly to 7.96.

One possible reason his strikeout numbers were down is a drop in velocity. In 2018 his average fastball speed was 94.2. In 2019 he lost over a mile per hour, his FB average dropping to 93.0. His biggest downfall was his inability to consistently command the strike zone. Across his minor league career, his BB/9 ratio was a sub-par 4.4. In the majors that increased to 5.8. The Blue Jays were no doubt hoping he would improve on his 5.67 BB/9 in 2018, instead it was even higher to 5.97 in 2019. You simply can’t issue that many free passes and expect to have success in MLB.

Reid-Foley appears to be in management’s dog house. He didn’t get called up to the big club in September. On September 23-24 combined the Blue Jays bullpen pitched 20 innings. On September 25, the Blue Jays badly needed arms to finish the season. They called up Yennsy Díaz whose one game to date in MLB was less than stellar, to say the least (0.2 innings pitched, 2 runs given up on 1 hit and 4 walks). Yet Reid Foley’s phone remained silent.

A lot will depend on the offseason. Assuming the Blue Jays are successful at acquiring established major league pitching help, Reid Foley is likely to fall further down the depth chart. Management will keep a close eye on pitchers like Shoemaker and Borucki to see how they bounce back from season-ending injuries in 2019. The likelihood is that Reid Foley will start the 2020 season at AAA until he proves that he can consistently command the strike zone.

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Carlos Correa hit a huge playoff home run on the weekend, and celebrated in a way that we haven’t seen since Jose Bautista in 2015.
Baseball is evolving at a pretty rapid pace, from everything to an increased focus on analytics, pitchers throwing harder than ever, and home runs flying out of ballparks at a record pace. It’s a pretty traditional game, but things are evolving just as pretty much anything will eventually.

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Part of that evolution is in the attitude of baseball fans, especially when it comes to some of the “unwritten” rules of baseball. Tradition and respect will always be important between the lines, and that will never go away for “America’s past time”, but I noticed a big difference over the weekend from even just a few years ago.

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What I’m referring to specifically was the gigantic home run that was hit by Carlos Correa of the Astros to tie the ALCS up at 1-1 with the Yankees. The extra-inning bomb arguably saved the Astros chances against the Yankees in the series, and it was a moment worthy of celebration, especially for the home crowd in Houston. Correa took full advantage as well, stopping to admire his home run, discarding his bat in a “mic drop” fashion, and putting his hand to his ear to get the crowd to cheer even louder. To cap things off, he shot his helmet into a crowd of teammates around home plate as if it were a basketball, finally touching home plate to tie the series.

Four years ago today, Jose Bautista hit one of the more iconic home runs in recent memory for the Toronto Blue Jays.
It’s hard to believe that four years ago today Jose Bautista sent Toronto Blue Jays fans at Rogers Centre into a frenzy with one swing of the bat off Sam Dyson.

Of course, Joe Carter‘s home run to win the World Series should live forever as the top moment in Blue Jays’ history along with the first title win in 1992. Even though Torontoever won anything in 2015, the Bautista home run should be right behind them when it comes to the emotional significance it still has today.

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When you consider how much that bat flipped was talked about and how it clinched that series for good, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that it’s still being celebrated today. People thought that Bautista was disrespectful tossing his bat after hitting the biggest home run of his career while others loved the drama of the moment.

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The seventh inning provided one of the more intense moments in recent MLB playoff history when you look at how the Blue Jays lost the lead when the ball went off the bat of Shin-Soo Choo and no one knew what to do. Then the Ranger committed some questionable errors that allowed Toronto to tie the game setting the stage for Bautista’s heroics.

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That bat flip has allowed more players to feel more comfortable with celebrating in the moment and also some to look dumb when they bat flip a single (we’re looking at you Rougned Odor).

Look back at Game 2 of the ALCS between the Houston Astros and New York Yankees where Carlos Correa provided the walk-off celebration that would have made Bautista proud. His ‘bat drop’ to signify a mic drop was perfect in the moment because not only was it clever but it also sent a message.

Considering how much things have changed for the Blue Jays since 2015, fans should be allowed to go back and celebrate moments like this and only hope that the team can find a way to create more moments like this.

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Personally, I have no problem with the way that Correa celebrated the big moment, just as I had no problem with Jose Bautista‘s epic bat flip in 2015. I’ll be the first to admit that I am more than a little bias when it comes to the Bautista moment, but I feel pretty much the same way about Correa’s celebration as I did when Bautista had the biggest moment of his MLB career. I can’t imagine what I would do with the euphoria of delivering in that big of a moment.

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I say, celebrate to your heart’s content, as long as you’re not directly rubbing anything in your opponent’s faces. Everyone should be expected to be a “good sport” at the highest level of baseball, but it would be ridiculous if people begrudged Correa for enjoying a career-defining moment. And from what I’ve noticed on social media and even in the press, very few seem to hold it against him.

Things were a lot different just four years ago when Bautista flipped his bat against the Rangers, and they took exception to the point where it carried over into the next season. Heck, that feud would likely still be going on now if Bautista were still playing. It was viewed by many fans, writers, and even some fellow big leaguers as a sign of disrespect, even if it wasn’t meant that way. Fast forward four years later, and it’s hard to find anyone criticizing Correa for indulging in his big moment.

Maybe people are starting to get more used to this sort of thing in the big leagues, as more boisterous celebrations are becoming a little more common these days. Maybe it was because Correa is a more universally likeable figure than Bautista was while in Toronto, even if the Blue Jays’ fan base loved him.

Maybe it was the fact that Correa dedicated his home run to a young man dying of cancer who he visited in the hospital last week, a story that has quickly and deservedly circulated and overwhelmed any negative discussion about the big home run. I’ll admit, I started out wanting to write about why I think Bautista’s home run was a bigger playoff moment, but after reading more details about the Correa story, I didn’t want to go there with the whole thing and maybe that’s part of why he’s getting a pass as well.

Carlos Correa Dedicates Walk-Off Homer to Teen Fan With Cancer https://t.co/QmlXjduExw

— TMZ (@TMZ) October 14, 2019

Whatever the case, it seems to me that things are evolving with the game of baseball, including around what is and isn’t allowed according to either the actual rulebook, or the written one. Don’t be surprised if the Correa highlight is used as a prime promotional tool for many years by the league, just as Bautista’s has, especially in Canada.

NEXT: Who are the non-tender candidates this winter?
And if are a Blue Jays’ fan who also happens to be the old school type to hate on what we saw from Correa on the weekend, there was still one reason for us all to enjoy it. The blast walked off the Yankees, and that’s reason for us all to celebrate.

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The Toronto Blue Jays brain trust has proclaimed they will be looking to improve the roster this offseason via the trade route, however, which players are completely untouchable?
The Blue Jays will be searching for controllable impact arms this offseason but as we all know that will not come cheap especially seeing the Jays don’t historically wade into the deep end to land the high priced free-agent catch.

Ross Atkins and company definitely have the assets to net a big fish via trade but who would you be willing to part with from the current roster. In order to get quality, sometimes you have to give up quality.

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NEW YORK — Major League Baseball’s average attendance dropped 1.7% this year for its fourth straight decline, and five of the six biggest drops were by teams with losing records.

Toronto, Seattle, San Francisco and Detroit combined for more than 1.8 million fewer tickets, and a 259-388 won-lost record.

The 30 teams averaged 28,339, according to the commissioner’s office, down from 28,830 last year — the first time the average was below 30,000 since 2003. Total attendance of 68.5 million was down more than 5 million from 2015.

The players’ association maintains attendance has been hurt by an increase in rebuilding teams, which its members and staff label “tanking.”

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“The wilful failure of too many franchises to field competitive teams and put their best players on the field is unquestionably hurting our industry,” union head Tony Clark said last week.

Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred says rebuilding is cyclical and attendance and record correlate in some markets but not all. He also points out the success of the sport in television ratings and an increase in minor league gates.

ATLANTA – By now, the front office flair of Alex Anthopoulos is well recognized and for the most part appreciated by the win-now segment of baseball fandom.

The Montreal native who helped build the Blue Jays franchise back into prominence a few years back recognizes the nuances of the modern game and the importance of having a deep and productive farm system.

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But there is a craps player at the core of Anthopoulos as well, a gambler not shy about rolling the dice to make a big score when the timing and the table conditions are just right.

He did it in Toronto, boldly trading for players such as Josh Donaldson, Troy Tulowitzki and David Price while signing others like Jose Bautista and Russell Martin, all huge components in setting up the playoff runs of 2015 and 2016.

Now as the Braves begin their post-season journey here on a sizzling Thursday evening in the south, and considered as a sleeper threat to win it all, one of his latest high-stakes moves is a big reason why.

For the second time in their respective careers, third baseman Donaldson and general manager Anthopoulos are together for some October baseball. And to this point anyway, it couldn’t have worked out better.

“We gave him the biggest one-year contract in the history of the game and that contract reflected the fact that we thought he had a chance to be healthy and if he was, he would be one of the better players in the game,” Anthopoulos said in an interview with the Toronto Sun. “Short term it was good for both sides. Josh had been hurt for two seasons in a row so there was always that risk.

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“From his standpoint, a lot of things lined up well for him. But really, this is what we all hoped for.”

That one-year, $23 million US deal had its skeptics on both sides. Why would the Braves, for example, pay that kind of money for a player who couldn’t stay healthy in his final two years with the Jays?

And for Donaldson, at age 33, why would he agree to a one-year deal at this point in his career?

The answer for both was risk-reward and trusting their respective instincts.

“We understood when we got him that he was in line for a big contract with Toronto and unfortunately he got hurt,” Anthopoulos said. “Both of us looked at this as a place for him to rebuild his value, be in a good clubhouse on a good team and to re-establish himself.

“For us, the advantage was that coming into 2019 we knew what we had here and that he could be a valuable addition.”

Anthopoulos hit all the right notes in his pitch for the Bringer of Rain. Come to the south and play for a team you were a fan of as a kid. Be a role model for a young, talented and motivated group of players. And finally, get healthy and lead that team to the postseason.

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“It’s been a good fit for him,” Anthopoulos said. “First and foremost, Josh wanted to go to a team where he had a chance to win. Obviously, that was important to him. We had just come off winning the division and adding him only made us that much more competitive. And his familiarity with the staff helped.”

The familiar face factor was indeed critical to Donaldson, especially given his frustration with the Jays the previous year when he missed most of the season due to a variety of ailments.

When the Jays fired head trainer George Poulis after the 2017 season, Anthopoulos wasted little time bringing him and assistant Mike Frostad to Atlanta. The long-time Jays employee and Donaldson were tight, a relationship that immediately flourished here.

“There’s no magic, it’s his hard work,” Poulis said of Donaldson’s resurgence. “He’s very, very diligent at working.

“It’s the same as I remember in Toronto. I’ve been in this game for 30 years and I’ve always had a deep respect for the everyday player. To see Josh do it and be determined … He’s a special person, no question.”

Almost incredibly given his age, the violence of his swing and his recent injury history, Donaldson has been that reliable everyday player in 2019, a force at the plate and a reliable defender at third.

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Health has been key, as he has both trusted his body and worked to get it back to the supreme condition that allowed him to play in 155 games including 100 consecutive.

“When I was hurt, there were some people who thought I didn’t want to play,” Donaldson said, shaking his head. “They thought I was done. They had no idea what I was going through. That’s not me.”

The logical next question is one that is on hold — for now. What’s next for Donaldson?

If he leads the Braves to their first playoff series win since 2001 and to a 10th World Series appearance in franchise history, it will be difficult to let him get away.

“Everything that both sides hoped would happen has,” Anthopoulos said. “He came here and was comfortable, was able to stay on the field and was able to perform at a high level to put himself in a position to get the contract he deserves.

“Whether that will be from us, we’ll see. Rightfully there’s going to be a lot of demand on him. We think we have a lot to offer as well. Josh has been great and has been a huge part of our success. We’d love having him here long term.”

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George Poulis is a big fan of his boss and not just because the Braves general manager rescued him off the unemployment line when the long-time trainer was let go by the Blue Jays.

In Braves Alex Anthopoulos, Poulis sees a winning personality with motivation to excel.

“Alex is a guy who is very driven,” said Poulis, who worked for Anthopoulos with the Jays and was hired in Atlanta prior to the 2018 season. “He doesn’t settle for second best. Every waking hour, he’s working and pushing people to get better around him.

“That’s what I love about Alex the most. He makes us all better people.”

As for third baseman Josh Donaldson, Poulis is also rather bullish on the Bringer of Rain.

“I’m not into predictions, but I’ll never bet against this guy,” Poulis said.

“We’re going to draw 68-plus million people at the big league level,” Manfred said, “another 41 million in minor league baseball — they’re actually going to be up. I’ll take 110 million people going to see the sport live. That’s a really, really awesome number in an environment where people have more and more and more alternatives to consume.”

Toronto had the biggest home attendance drop, falling 575,137 in a season in which the Blue Jays went 67-95 for their third straight losing season and most losses since 1980.

Seattle fell 507,769 as the Mariners went 68-94, their poorest record since 2011. San Francisco went down 448,425 and ended a streak of nine consecutive seasons at 3 million or more that coincided with three World Series titles. The Giants went 77-85 in their third straight losing season.

Detroit dropped 355,540 while going a big league-worst 47-114, the second-most losses in team history. The Tigers’ 1.5 million home attendance was their lowest since their 119-loss season in 2003.

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Washington, which earned an NL wild card and beat Milwaukee to reach the Division Series, fell 269,823 following the departure of Bryce Harper to Philadelphia as a free agent.

Baltimore dropped 256,385 while going 54-108, and the Orioles’ 1.3 million fans at home were their fewest in a non-shortened season since 1978 at old Memorial Stadium.

In all, home attendance dropped for 14 of the 30 teams, although three of those teams fell by less than 100,000, Miami rose by 198 people to 811,302 while going 57-105 in Derek Jeter’s second season as chief executive.

Kansas City went down by 185,448 and fell below 1.5 million for the first time since 2006.

On the plus side, Philadelphia rose 569,297 after signing Harper and despite an 81-81 record finished above 2.7 million for the first time since 2013, when the Phillies started a streak of six straight losing seasons.

Minnesota went up 334,955 boosted by a 101-61 record, the second-most wins in team history, San Diego went up 227,863 after signing free agent slugger Manny Machado but skidded to a 70-92 record. The New York Mets went up 217,537 boosted by an August spurt and their first winning record since 2016.

Rays win American League Wild Card 5-1

For me personally and most of you, Bo Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. are going nowhere. That is a no-brainer. However, I value Cavan Biggio just as high as the likes of Bo and Vladdy. The baseball IQ and raw tools he put on display over the final two months of the season is very promising. Biggio is untouchable.

That leaves Lourdes Gurriel Jr. as possibly your best trade chip from the roster and although I am a huge Gurriel fan, I am listening if a team comes calling and is willing to offer up an arm. Gurriel has shown flashes of brilliance with the stick but has struggled to remain on the field due to injury at times.

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Obviously, the Jays are not parting with Nate Pearson as the plan is to couple him with whoever they can acquire at the front of the rotation. Alek Manoah and Eric Pardinho are probably also on the no-trade list among minor leaguers.

There is some speculation in Blue Jays circles that the team acquired Simeon Woods Richardson to flip for a pitcher closer to being MLB ready this offseason. That type of move would make sense as he is still a number of years away and Atkins was pumping his tires pretty hard following the trade.

NEXT: Blue Jays: What free agents should they target this offseason?
It should be an interesting offseason to see what is available on the market and exactly what the team is willing to surrender to solidify the starting staff moving forward.