Taijuan Walker has quietly been one of the better pitchers in the AL since he was traded to Toronto, and the Blue Jays should do what they can to re-sign him.
Ross Atkins and the Blue Jays front office had a very busy trade deadline this year, and with the benefit of hindsight, it’s a good thing they did. The additions of Robbie Ray, Ross Stripling, and Jonathan Villar have all come with mixed results, but there’s no doubt that they still helped push an injury-depleted roster into the playoffs.
As for Taijuan Walker, he’s not only helped in that regard, he’s proven that he could be the type of starter that the Blue Jays have to seriously pursue this winter. After the way he’s pitched down the stretch for the Blue Jays, he’s not going to come cheap if they are looking to retain him.
After throwing three hitless innings on Friday, the right-hander will finish the regular season with a 4-3 record, a 2.70 ERA, and a 1.16 WHIP across 11 starts in this abbreviated season. As impressive as those numbers are, he’s been even better since joining the Blue Jays. In those six starts he’s been good for a 1.37 ERA, and has more than proven himself capable of being a playoff starter as the team heads to the post-season.
More from Jays Journal
It’s expected that once they’re through with this playoff run, the Blue Jays will look to add to their rotation for the 2021 season. As things stand now they’ll still have Hyun Jin Ryu, Nate Pearson, Ross Stripling, Trent Thornton, and others who have pitched in relief this year like Anthony Kay, Thomas Tom Hatch, Ryan Borucki, Julian Merryweather and more. They also have Tanner Roark under contract for one more year, and a 9.5 million dollar option on Chase Anderson, but they’re set to lose Matt Shoemaker, Robbie Ray, and Walker to free agency.
They have enough options that the Blue Jays could stand pat and build a rotation with their in-house options, but I doubt that’ll be the way they go. That’s especially the case as they’ve proven that they’re ready to compete in 2021, having qualified for the post-season this year. Yes, it’s under an expanded format, but they’re still sitting at 31-27 on the season, and that a significant step for this young and talented core.
With that in mind, I believe the Blue Jays will spend to bring in a starter that could comfortably slot as the number two behind Ryu. That could very well be a spot that’s destined for a guy like Pearson, but Walker would provide important high-end depth for the next few seasons at least, and that could be a difference maker. At just 28 years old, he’s likely just entering his prime as well, and this year has been a great indication of where his potential could be.
What will it cost to retain him? I know it sounds like a cop out, but I’m honestly having a hard time taking a guess given the way the pandemic has likely changed the financial dynamics of free agency. In a normal year I wouldn’t be that surprised if he could look for 4-5 years at 15-20 million, but will there be teams lining up with that kind of offer this winter? It’ll depend on what ownership has to say about the budget, and that could be a tricky situation for a lot of teams.
As for the Blue Jays, most of their best players are still playing on pre-arbitration contracts, and with so many other bargains on the roster, this is the perfect time to continuing adding final pieces. After that audition that Walker has shown the Blue Jays this summer, I can’t imagine they’ll let him get away without at least making a serious offer, and if he adds to his resume in the playoffs then the pressure will really fall on Atkins to keep him around. It’s been a match made in heaven so far, and a partnership well worth trying to extend.
Raptors ‘making the best’ of challenging circumstances ahead of NBA Draft – Sportsnet.ca
TORONTO — Despite looking to have slim pickings with picks No. 29 and No. 59 in this year’s NBA Draft, the Toronto Raptors think there’s a lot of talent to be found at those spots and are doing a lot of homework right now to cover their bases before the Nov. 18 date.
“It seems to be a very balanced draft this year,” said Raptors assistant general manager Dan Tolzman in a conference call with the media Wednesday, “which for picking almost smack dab in the middle of it, at 29, we feel pretty confident that we could be looking at 50 different players maybe just for that one pick because we have really no idea who could go at the 20 picks in front of that pick, or the 20 picks after, and it’ll be anywhere in between.
“We have interest in guys in that whole range because there’s a lot of uncertainty just because of the typical draft process not being the same… usually there’s a lot of risers and fallers based on whether it’s the draft combine, individual workouts, three-on-three workouts, all that kind of stuff, that isn’t happening so a lot of the same names that we usually would have maybe bounced around on our list a little more frequently… they’re still very much in the mix and a handful of those guys will probably end up going well before our pick and we’ll be looking at some names that we may not expect at both of our picks.”
Though the great NBA bubble experiment has come to a close, the effects of COVID-19 are still impacting the league in big ways, most notably right now in the fact that the draft has been moved to November from its usual June date and the pre-draft process has gone entirely virtual, creating hurdles not seen before.
Thankfully for the Raptors, however, they haven’t been too disrupted by their new reality.
“It’s very different than what we’re used to, I can tell you that,” Tolzman said of the workflow happening now. “It’s one-of-a-kind and it seems like it’s never-ending, to be totally honest with you. It’s one of those things where we are doing what we can within the guidelines that the league has given us, and we’re making the best of it. Thankfully, our scouting department, our front office is designed to not be too thrown off by these new ways of doing things.
“It’s just it seems like forever since we’ve seen these players. They might be completely different from the last time we saw them playing in March. We’re basing a lot of these decisions on extensive film work, discussions as a staff, and a lot of background digging on players to get as much info as we can to make an educated decision come draft night. So it’s gonna look a little different, the process leading up to it, but hopefully when it’s all said and done, looking back on it, it won’t be much different in terms of outcome of it.”
The Raptors take a holistic approach to their entire draft process and rely on data they’ve accumulated on players over the span of multiple years rather than just looking at a players’ most recent season. So it makes sense when Tolzman says his team is well-equipped for these extenuating circumstances. Still, he does admit that not being able to see players live face-to-face for interviews or to bring them to Toronto to work out has made the process more challenging than before.
“It’s unfortunate for that side of things to kind of miss out on that opportunity. We’re still getting some one-on-one time,” Tolzman said. “We’re doing a lot of Zoom interviews. Of course, it doesn’t recreate the inter-person discussions, but we’re doing our best to at least get to know them through those sorts of interviews, but then also reaching out and talking to people within their circles to just kind of learn as much as we can.
“More than anything, a lot of times what we do is we’ll talk to guys early in the pre-draft and they’ll talk about all the different things they’re working on, what they’re hoping to change in their game as they transition to the NBA, and usually the workouts, the visits, that’s where we get to see that first hand and see all the transitions they’re making. We’re not getting a lot of that this year…
“I’d definitely say it’s not something that’s going to make it impossible for us, but it’s just a valued part of the process that we just won’t have this year.”
Another complication for the Raptors, in particular, Tolzman mentioned was the fact the team puts a lot of emphasis on player development and utilizes tools like Summer League and the G-League to help develop young players recently drafted or signed. With no concrete information about when next NBA season is going to start, those development opportunities are also on hold, adding another variable for the Raptors to considerer heading into this draft.
“It’s definitely something that we’re trying to figure out right now,” Tolzman said. “It’s going to impact how we address the two-ways, the Exhibit-10, G-League kind of mentality big time because we just don’t know… what those sorts of deals that these players will be on, how it will impact their ability to go and continue to develop.”
With that said, however, Tolzman is confident the team’s player-development program will still be able to help whoever the Raptors bring in from the draft with little to no drop-off.
“Honestly, we feel really comfortable with whoever we target and bring in,” he said. “We know that our development program is in place regardless of what type of deal they’re on or what the status is within the organization, but we know once guys get with us they’ve shown enough potential to draw the interest in the first place. We just feel comfortable that as long as we bring in the right types of guys that are wired the way all the guys we’ve had success with are, regardless of what the season actually brings, the development work is still going to be there, all the hours of work are still going to be put in and we fully trust our development staff to work with these guys.”
And it’s probably for this reason that the Raptors are so confident picking where they are right now and why they’re looking to cast their net as wide as 50 possible players they could be interested in. No matter who they acquire, the team’s player-development program has proven to be one that can turn prospects into good NBA players with names like Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet and Norman Powell being shining examples of that.
So while this is a draft that may lack the kind of star power of previous ones to draw casual eyeballs, Tolzman’s assessment that this is a balanced pool of players seems very fitting and explains why he suggested that even players who go undrafted could get plenty of attention from around the league.
“There’s going to be a lot of rotation-level players that come out of this draft, kind of all across the board, and I think probably more than usual the undrafted market is going to be huge because normally players that maybe early on were expected to go undrafted, they worked their way into the draft picture and those workouts and those opportunities for them to do so just didn’t happen this year. So a lot of these guys that have maybe been earmarked unfairly as an undrafted player, they’re going to end up on that market and you’re going to see guys come out of nowhere and be contributors next year.”
Some of the players that may get overlooked are the Canadian contingent, which includes point guard Karim Mane of Montreal, shooting guard Nate Darling of Saint John, N.B., and power forward Isiaha Mike of Toronto. Unlike 2019’s record-setting draft for Canadian basketball, the crop of Canadians hoping to have their name called on draft night in 2020 is much smaller in both number and profile.
“I think the few [Canadian] players that are in the draft are interesting and we always like to make sure that we get to know all of these guys and we don’t want to miss anything with any local guys because we kind of pride ourselves on having a pretty thorough program in terms of keeping guys developing with some local ties because it makes it easier for them to get comfortable and develop as young players as well,” Tolzman said.
“So, there’s definitely some interesting players who we see with the right development, the right program put in front of them they could absolutely turn into legitimate NBA players.”
The Raptors have never drafted a Canadian player in the franchise’s history. Given the kind of draft this is, this year might not be a bad one to cross that particular bit of Canadian basketball history off of the club’s list.
With Shapiro likely to stay, Blue Jays’ murky future takes some shape – Sportsnet.ca
TORONTO – Mark Shapiro is well-versed enough in the art of navigating difficult questions that if he wants to give a non-answer, he certainly knows how. On Wednesday, when I asked if his expiring contract as president and CEO of the Toronto Blue Jays had been extended, it seemed like he was going to Connor McDavid his way through the matter.
Then, after the usual stuff about how much he enjoys living in Toronto, wants to remain in the city and intends to “finish the job” of rebuilding the club into a championship contender after this year’s playoff appearance, Shapiro cleverly planted an answer inside his non-answer.
“The desire to be here long term has been reciprocated by the people I work for,” said Shapiro. “That’s as simple as I can be for you. I’ll be here until I’m not here. Based upon my desire to be here and the reciprocation of that, I would expect that that’s going to continue to happen.”
Now, as simple as he can be would have been a “Yes, my contract has been extended,” or a “No, my contract hasn’t been extended yet, but it’ll get done.” Better to not make everyone parse words. Since we’re here, though, there’s no way Shapiro would say such a thing publicly if the five-year deal he signed upon arrival in November 2015 wasn’t either already extended, or in the final stages of renewal.
Watch every game of the 2020 World Series between the Tampa Bay Rays and Los Angeles Dodgers on Sportsnet and SN Now.
To do so otherwise would be a reckless attempt at strong-arming team owner Rogers Communications Inc., which also owns this website, into signing a new deal. Shapiro isn’t doing that, which is why you have to think an extension is all but done, if not signed and sealed.
Why the chicanery, then?
A fanbase deserves transparency about the terms of a team’s leadership when the organization is, in part, a public trust. And since players, managers and coaches all have to perform with their contractual status up for debate in the public domain, why shouldn’t executives like Shapiro have to do the same?
“To me, when things are going well, there’s not a lot of discussion about front-office executives,” replied Shapiro. “At least there shouldn’t be. We’re not celebrities. We’re not stars. We’re here to do a job and that job is ultimately for our fans, which is about the players in the field. It’s more of an extension of the desire to have that focus be on the players. I think when things are going well, that naturally happens anyway.”
Decide for yourselves on that one.
Either way, the “reciprocity” about Shapiro’s future apparently removes one of the lingering questions about the Blue Jays’ future from the long list of uncertainties they and countless other businesses face amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Most pressing among them for the Blue Jays are whether they will be able to play in Toronto next season, if fans will be allowed in the Rogers Centre, what their payroll will be and how they’ll be able to sell a situation more uneven than any of the other 29 clubs to free-agent targets. Not to mention how to improve a club that went 32-28 in the abbreviated season before getting bounced in two games by the American League champion Tampa Bay Rays.
In a sense, they’re all interconnected as the club’s finances are impacted by whether it is allowed to both play and host fans at Rogers Centre, and remember that commissioner Rob Manfred has said some 40 per cent of Major League Baseball revenue derives from attendance.
Still, Shapiro raised expectations for an active winter by saying that “we will conduct this off-season much like last off-season,” which, for reference, included the signing of ace Hyun-Jin Ryu to an $80-million, four-year deal, Tanner Roark for $24 million over two years and the acquisition of Chase Anderson and his $10 million guarantee, among other moves.
The club right now is conducting its usual baseball operations and scouting meetings in preparation for a presentation to ownership next month, which will include a payroll recommendation and revenue projections that are far from certain.
Bolstering Shapiro’s bullish outlook is that he’s received “consistent encouragement that we continue to progress in our plan, that we continue to move forward,” from ownership.
“And every indication has been very strongly that they expect us to continue to pursue where we need to add to our core, continue to pursue players this off-season,” he added. “That takes two parties, not just us, but also the players we’re pursuing. But I think the resources are going to be there. If we think the right deals are there and we make those recommendations, the resources are going to be there for us to add in a meaningful way.”
A statement like that can cause the imagination to run wild, but in a market clouded by the economic fallout of pandemic restrictions, that’s a signal the Blue Jays are prepared to do business.
Where exactly they’re going to play is sure to be among the first queries they get from free agents, with the season the team just spent at Buffalo’s Sahlen Field after getting booted from Toronto, Pittsburgh and Baltimore not exactly a selling point.
Money talks in free agency, but the Blue Jays will need to convince their targets that any hiccups in 2021 will be short-lived and all inconveniences, minimal.
“I am certain that will not be an issue, especially over the length of a long-term contract for a free-agent player,” said Shapiro. “I’m hopeful and optimistic it won’t be an issue this year, at all, and pretty confident it won’t be at some point this year. But we’ll deal with the uncertainty the way we have all along, and we’ll be honest and forthright and open. Part of what makes playing here so exceptional is this place and the team and the players and the environment and the atmosphere around them. So with those things won’t change regardless of where we are.”
The club’s revenues will, of course, which is part of what makes the current planning process so tricky.
While the Canada-United States border remains closed, the pandemic’s trajectory leads Shapiro to believe that “the public health picture is likely to improve to the point that I would think the border would be open at some point during next baseball season, and that would alleviate a lot of the issues.”
The Blue Jays, who were hit by an outbreak at their Dunedin facility before summer camp started, had no positive cases during the regular season. According to data released by Major League Baseball and the players union, 21 clubs had a COVID-19 positive during the monitoring period, so that would leave them among the outlier clubs.
More important to their fate, however, is whether any of the vaccine candidates currently in the final testing stage receive governmental approval for distribution and are widely taken by the public. If the process is slower or less effective than expected, the Blue Jays may find themselves homeless again, and Buffalo isn’t an automatic answer since what happens to minor-league baseball next year “is also in question at this point,” said Shapiro.
The club’s focus will obviously be on a season in Toronto, but “we will clearly also have to look at other places as well, which we will do.”
Trying to project ticket sales through all that uncertainty has led the Blue Jays to undergo what Shapiro described as “more of a scenario planning than a formal budgeting process that we would normally go through.”
“We normally have a ticketing model that would take into consideration competitiveness, the teams we play, the history. In this case, we have nothing to build that model upon because we have no history to work from,” said Shapiro. “So what we did do was talk to obviously the other teams that exist in this market, we talked to teams in similar peer markets throughout Major League Baseball. We talked to other entertainment businesses in Toronto and in Canada to ask them, whether it’s theatres or concert venues, how are they thinking about 2021. We talked to MLB. We factored in all those opinions and then we made our best guess, the best guess that we could possibly make, which is tough to do.”
Chasing a moving target is a reality of the times, which for baseball means a 60-game season without peer is due to be followed by an off-season like no other. It all makes for a murky path forward, one the Blue Jays seem poised to keep taking with Shapiro at the helm.
With the NBA focusing on a 2020-21 start date, where will the Toronto Raptors call home? – Yahoo Canada Shine On
The NBA is focusing on Martin Luther King Day (Jan. 18) for a start date next season, league sources tell Yahoo Sports.
<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Among the issues the league is facing from this unconventional calendar means getting the NBA back on track for normalcy for the 2021-22 season, as in October to June. Before the pandemic shut the NBA down in March, many were openly campaigning to start the season on Christmas Day permanently, largely to avoid conflict with the NFL’s season.” data-reactid=”17″>Among the issues the league is facing from this unconventional calendar means getting the NBA back on track for normalcy for the 2021-22 season, as in October to June. Before the pandemic shut the NBA down in March, many were openly campaigning to start the season on Christmas Day permanently, largely to avoid conflict with the NFL’s season.
<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="The lower ratings for the just-concluded Finals likely put a little bit of realism in the minds of the decision-makers about the viewing habits of the public as well as the appetite for the players to drag their season well into the summer and to the tip of fall.” data-reactid=”18″>The lower ratings for the just-concluded Finals likely put a little bit of realism in the minds of the decision-makers about the viewing habits of the public as well as the appetite for the players to drag their season well into the summer and to the tip of fall.
It hasn’t been decided whether the NBA can implement a full 82-game schedule, especially with an emphasis on getting some level of attendance in areas and upholding the recently-developed standards concerning player rest, cutting down on the back-to-backs and heavy travel.
The focus for next season, primarily, is getting things finished in a reasonable amount of time for the draft, free agency and rest in the summer of 2021 for a traditional mid-October start.
A Christmas Day start is still in play, approximately a three-and-a-half week gap between the two dates, and while some around the league are optimistic a start can occur closer to the Christmas holiday, it feels more pragmatic to foresee a start around Jan. 18, 2021. The league will give teams a two-month notice before the start of the season.
A Board of Governors meeting is slated for this coming Friday, where commissioner Adam Silver will focus on getting next season started on track. The bubble was a success, but Silver has been talking to owners heading into this week’s call, not wanting to bask in the recent history, knowing what’s ahead.
<h2 class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="The Louisville Raptors?” data-reactid=”43″>The Louisville Raptors?
One big focus for next season has been the status of the Toronto Raptors. Due to the United States’ handling of COVID-19, travel into Canada has been banned.
<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="MLB’s Toronto Blue Jays played their home games in Buffalo, and the Toronto FC of the MLS played its games in East Hartford, Connecticut.” data-reactid=”45″>MLB’s Toronto Blue Jays played their home games in Buffalo, and the Toronto FC of the MLS played its games in East Hartford, Connecticut.
The Raptors face a similar dilemma, and league sources tell Yahoo Sports one alternate location that has been broached is Louisville, Kentucky. Former NBA player and successful businessman Junior Bridgeman has been in contact with the NBA, considering Louisville has the KFC Yum! Center that is NBA-ready.
No decision has been made yet, as it’s on a laundry list of topics to be discussed on the upcoming call, along with the collective bargaining agreement, competitive formats for next season and an update on the social justice coalition.
Louisville wouldn’t be first in line in the event of relocation or expansion; Seattle is. But it seems to be an easier sell to get the Raptors in Louisville for a short period — or even sharing a current NBA market, according to sources.
How this goes with the league’s objectives of getting fans in seats is an interesting proposition if the Raptors would play home games in, say, New York or Chicago, given there’s no natural fan base there.
A league official told Yahoo Sports the same line Silver has been parroting for months now, that the virus will determine so much of the league’s actions. It doesn’t appear likely the virus will slow down enough for Canada to open its borders for frequent international travel anytime soon.
The NBA is appearing to take proactive measures similar to its professional counterparts.
Even though official league business hasn’t begun for next season, it hasn’t stopped teams from discussing parameters for trades.
<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="One hot name: New Orleans Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday. According to sources, around 10 teams are inquiring about his services and one team hot after him is the Denver Nuggets, eager to capitalize on their appearance in the West Finals.” data-reactid=”78″>One hot name: New Orleans Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday. According to sources, around 10 teams are inquiring about his services and one team hot after him is the Denver Nuggets, eager to capitalize on their appearance in the West Finals.
Holiday, an All-Defense performer capable of playing both guard spots, averaged 19.1 points and 6.7 assists for the Pelicans this past season and seemingly could fit in with the Nuggets’ youth and recent experience. He’s under contract for next season with a player option for 2021-22 at $27 million, and many teams believe the Pelicans will be looking to shed some salary going into next season.
So much of what Denver or any team can do depends on what the cap looks like, especially with the Nuggets having $107 million committed for next season, highlighted by max deals to stars Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray.
One executive theorized a sign-and-trade with Jerami Grant could happen, considering he’s expected to decline his player option and enter free agency.
<h2 class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="One to watch: Texas Tech’s Jahmi’us Ramsey” data-reactid=”102″>One to watch: Texas Tech’s Jahmi’us Ramsey
Here’s a name some scouts feel will be a top-five player in a few years: Texas Tech shooting guard Jahmi’us Ramsey.
He’s rated as a late first-round pick but one executive who’s high on him feels Ramsey will ultimately be a point guard.
“He’s big [6-foot-4], strong, will get to his spots,” the executive said. “He doesn’t get a lot of love from the analytics folks because he played with a ball-dominant point guard but he’ll wind up being a lead guard.”
Ramsey shot nearly 43% from 3 in his one season at Texas Tech but surprisingly shot just 64% from the free-throw line. He struggled a bit to finish the conference season, which likely contributed to his stock dropping.
But an executive tells Yahoo Sports it’ll all be forgotten soon enough.
“He’ll be better in the NBA for the spacing and the way this game is played,” the executive said. “He’ll end up, when it’s said and done, like Draymond Green, in five years, people will say he’ll be a top-five player in the draft.”
<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="More from Yahoo Sports:” data-reactid=”111″>More from Yahoo Sports:
St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto declares COVID-19 outbreak among ER staff – pentictonherald.ca
Osiris-Rex: Nasa asteroid mission confident of success – BBC News
Quibi app to shut down – Entertainment News – Castanet.net
Silver investment demand jumped 12% in 2019
Iran anticipates renewed protests amid social media shutdown
Richmond BBQ spot speaks out about coronavirus rumours Vancouver Is Awesome
- Health21 hours ago
Alberta medical experts call for mandatory COVID-19 restrictions based on hospitalization numbers
- Tech23 hours ago
Apple’s MagSafe charger and silicone cases
- Science24 hours ago
Haunted houses find ways around COVID 19
- Tech22 hours ago
The Best iPhone 12 Cases & iPhone 12 Pro Cases, From OtterBox To Casetify – Forbes
- News24 hours ago
How Nigerian forces opened fire on Protest in Lagos
- Business22 hours ago
Google accused of abusing market power in landmark US case
- Tech21 hours ago
iPhone 12 Pro Max Has Smaller 3,687 mAh Battery According to Regulatory Filing
- News24 hours ago
Canada sees 2,341 new coronavirus cases as deaths near 10,000