The Blue Jays have found their ace — a big-money, top-of-the-rotation starter in the form of free agent left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu.
The news broke late Sunday that the rebuilding Toronto franchise signed the 32-year-old South Korean to a four-year US$80-million deal.
The signing turned a quiet off-season into a home-run acquisition for Jays general manager Ross Atkins and team president Mark Shapiro.
Most importantly, it gives manager Charlie Montoyo and pitching coach Pete Walker a legitimate starter to lead the young team after one of hits worst seasons in decades.
Though he pitched for the Los Angeles Dodgers for six seasons, Ryu led the majors in earned-run average in his outstanding 2019 campaign, finishing with a 2.32 ERA which earned him an All-Star berth and a runner-up for the National League Cy Young Award. Those honours were well earned with a 14-5 record which included 182.2 innings of work and 163 strikeouts.
Obviously the southpaw immediately vaults to the top of a Toronto rotation that for the most part was a disaster last season. It got particularly bad when Aaron Sanchez continued to battle injury issues and Marcus Stroman was a disruption in the clubhouse. Both were dealt prior to the July 31 MLB trade deadline and a troubled season in which the Jays used 21 different starters was in full disarray.
In Ryu, however, the team now has a legit ace to build around and complement the talented group of young position players led by Vlad Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette and Cavan Biggio.
It also makes it a productive off-season for Atkins and a Jays offence that has taken a lot of heat from a frustrated fan base. Quietly the Jays brass made it known they were serious about Ryu, however, and from a perception standpoint with the clubs followers, landing him has to be viewed as a large score.
Already, the team has acquired potential starters in Chase Anderson, Tanner Roark and Shun Yamaguchi, the latter who would appear to be a candidate for the bullpen.
As with any acquisition, the Ryu deal is pending a physical, which isn’t likely to take place until the new year. In his six seasons with the Dodgers, Ryu compiled a record of 54-33 with a stellar 2.98 ERA. Prior to coming to North America, Ryu was a legend in his homeland where he was a star in the Korean Baseball Organization.
The signing comes with some risk, however, given Ryu’s age and the fact that he has battled injuries throughout his career. But his most recent form is difficult to ignore and the need to acquire a pitcher with star power and effective stuff was critical.
From a money standpoint, the expenditure on the lefty is certainly a breakthrough for the Jays organization. Atkins has vowed all off-season that he had clearance from team owner Rogers Communications to spend — and spend he did.
The reported $80-million outlay is the most under the current administration and is the most money the team has spent since signing Canadian-born catcher Russell Martin to a five-year, $82-million contract. It also continues a massive MLB off-season for free-agent pitchers to break the bank. The biggest of those contracts went to Gerrit Cole, who signed with the Yankees for a record US$324 million.
In a perfect world, the Jays likely would have preferred topping out at three years for Ryu, so the term certainly brings some risk as the pitcher ages. On the other hand, with the Yankees getting so strong, so much young talent on the roster and attendance plummeting, one could argue that the team could ill afford not to make a splash by acquiring a quality arm.
The recent Jays acquisitions certainly change the makeup of a pitching staff that laboured last year. If you were projecting a rotation today — seven weeks and change before pitchers and catchers report to Dunedin, Fla. for spring training — Ryu would be at the top followed by Roark, Anderson, and Matt Shoemaker (who is coming off of knee surgery), with Ryan Borucki and Trent Thornton battling for the fifth spot.
With Ryu under contract for four years, if things go to plan the Jays pitching situation now seems loaded with promise. Nate Pearson, one of the most coveted pitching prospects in the game, is a year at most from a potential arrival in the big leagues and a host of other strong arms, including 2019 first-round pick Alek Manoah are also well regarded.
Until the Ryu signing, the Jays off-season was dominated by talk — with both Atkins and Shapiro maintaining they were aggressively pursuing big names. Sources around the league confirmed that strategy by Toronto management and now the talk is real.
And perhaps the Christmas miracle came just in time to stuff some Blue Jays tickets under the tree.
Umpire's 'Blown' Check-Swing Call Ends Epic Dodgers-Giants Series And Stuns Fans – Yahoo
The Giants’ Wilmer Flores struck out on what many believed was a blown check-swing call by first base umpire Gabe Morales. The out preserved the Dodgers’ 2-1 victory in Game 5 on Thursday, allowing the team to advance to the National League Championship Series against Atlanta.
The chances of a Giants rally appeared dim at the time. The count was 0-2, there were two outs, a runner on first, and three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer was pitching. Not to mention that Flores had never gotten a hit off Scherzer before, the San Francisco Chronicle noted.
But the anticlimactic ending to the momentous playoff clash between the historic rivals angered fans. Reporters and Major Leaguers, including the New York Mets’ Kevin Pillar (a former Giant), chimed in, too.
Check out the reactions of what some called “the check swing heard round the world.”
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.
Cardinals acquire Pro Bowl tight end Zach Ertz from Eagles – Sportsnet.ca
The undefeated Arizona Cardinals have added another weapon to their arsenal.
The Cardinals, who are the only 5-0 team in the NFL, acquired three-time Pro Bowl tight end Zach Ertz from the Philadelphia Eagles on Friday for cornerback Tay Gowan and a 2022 fifth-round draft pick.
Ertz played with the Eagles since they selected him in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft. He set an NFL record for most receptions by a tight end in a single season with 116 catches and also had a career-high 1,163 yards during the 2018 season. Ertz, who was selected to the Pro Bowl three consecutive years from 2017-19, caught the game-winning touchdown during Super Bowl LII to help the Eagles defeat the New England Patriots 41-33 and capture their first Super Bowl.
“Zach Ertz built a special legacy in Philadelphia,” Eagles chairman and CEO Jeffrey Lurie said in a statement. “Talented, tough, and passionate, he helped to establish our team’s culture and played a vital role in our success over the years.
“Zach created so many memories that will live on forever, from setting numerous franchise and league records, to reaching across the end zone for the game-winning touchdown in our first-ever Super Bowl championship. He will always be a member of the Eagles family, not only because of what he accomplished on the field, but also because of the wonderful person, dedicated leader, and exemplary role model that he was for nine seasons in Philadelphia. We wish Zach and Julie nothing but the best.”
The 30-year-old Ertz has 18 receptions for 189 yards and two touchdowns in six games this season. Philadelphia lost 28-22 Thursday night to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with Ertz hauling in a touchdown catch.
The Cardinals play the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.
Brady throws two TD passes, Buccaneers beat Eagles – TSN
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The Tampa Bay Buccaneers keep losing key players and stockpiling victories.
Tom Brady threw two touchdown passes, Leonard Fournette ran for two scores and the Buccaneers beat the Philadelphia Eagles 28-22 on Thursday night.
The defending Super Bowl champion Buccaneers (5-1) lost another cornerback when three-time All-Pro Richard Sherman left in the first quarter with a hamstring injury, but their depleted defense held on after Jalen Hurts rallied the Eagles from a 28-7 deficit.
“It’s tough to win on the road,” Brady said. “Obviously, we didn’t play our best so we have to get back to work … We got to get better.”
Playing with an injured thumb, Brady came out firing. The 44-year-old, seven-time Super Bowl champion tossed TD passes on Tampa Bay’s first two drives while going 11 for 12 for 121 yards.
His best play came after Hurts’ second TD run and a 2-point conversion pulled Philadelphia within six points with 3:05 left in the fourth quarter.
Facing a third-and-7 from Philadelphia’s 45, Brady rolled away from pressure and threw a perfect pass to Antonio Brown for a 27-yard gain to extend the drive and the Bucs ran out the clock.
“It was a great route, hell of a throw as Tom got out of the pocket,” Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians said. ″Couple times this year he slipped out of the pocket to the right and made a big play down the field.”
Brady finished 34 of 42 for 297 yards and an interception. He insisted his thumb, which was taped, is fine.
“I feel great, awesome,” he said. “It’s football season. I feel good. Really do.”
The Eagles (2-4) are winless in three home games under rookie coach Nick Sirianni. They heard boos at halftime but fought back to make it close.
“We were bad in the first half. Put that one on me,” Sirianni said. “There’s no doubt our offense needs to be better to give ourselves a chance to win.”
Brady’s 2-yard TD pass to O.J. Howard gave the Buccaneers a 7-0 lead. The Eagles answered on Hurts’ 5-yard scoring pass to Zach Ertz. Brady then hit Brown for a 23-yard TD pass to make it 14-7.
After two straight three-and-out series, Brady led the Bucs on another scoring drive with Fournette running in from the 2 to extend the lead to 21-7. Tampa increased its lead to 28-7 when Fournette walked in from the 1 in the third quarter.
Fournette ran for 81 yards and caught six passes for 46 yards.
“Having that year under my belt makes a big difference understanding it,” said Fournette, who signed with Tampa Bay shortly before last season after he was cut by Jacksonville. “The sky’s the limit for me.”
Brady was 19 of 22 before missing three straight passes late in the second quarter, including a deep ball intercepted by Anthony Harris that ended his streak of 227 passes without a pick.
The Buccaneers were already missing cornerbacks Carlton Davis and Sean Murphy-Bunting and safety Antoine Winfield before Sherman went down on Philadelphia’s first drive. Sherman was quickly ruled out. Arians wasn’t certain the severity of the injury.
“We just have to keep playing with the guys we have and see how long the injury is. Next man up,” Arians said.
Still, against a patchwork secondary, Hurts struggled throwing the ball. He was 12 of 26 for 155 yards, one TD and one interception. Hurts ran for 44 yards and two scores.
“I haven’t executed enough to win, clearly,” Hurts said. “The ball is in my hands every play and I enjoy that and I like that. I have to be better. I’m not doing enough to win. I’m not doing enough to start fast. I will be better.”
LOOK OUT, TROUT
Hurts fired the ball toward the stands after running into the end zone for his second TD, causing a security guard to duck and three-time AL MVP Mike Trout to flinch in his front-row seat. Trout, who grew up in nearby Millville, New Jersey, is a huge Eagles fan.
The Eagles inducted left tackle Tra Thomas and right tackle Jon Runyan into the team’s Hall of Fame during a halftime ceremony. The duo started 134 regular-season games together from 2000-08. During that span, the Eagles reached the playoffs seven times, won five NFC East titles, reached five conference championship games and one Super Bowl.
Buccaneers: TE Rob Gronkowski (ribs), Winfield (concussion) and LB Lavonte David (ankle) were inactive.
Eagles: TE Dallas Goedert (COVID protocol) and RT Lane Johnson (personal) were inactive.
Buccaneers: Host Chicago (2-3) on Oct. 24.
Eagles: At Las Vegas (3-2) on Oct. 24.
Follow Rob Maaddi on Twitter at https://twitter.com/robmaaddi and his work can be found at https://apnews.com/search/robmaaddi
More AP NFL coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL
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