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Breaking: OG Anunoby Signs 4-year $72M Extension – Raptors Republic

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OG Anunoby and the Raptors have agreed to a 4-year $72M contract extension, with a player option for the 2024-25 season.

Many thought that Anunoby’s market was starting to balloon north of 20M with recent signings of lower potential and impact players (Marcus Morris, Luke Kennard, Jerami Grant, Kyle Kuzma), but Anunoby and the Raptors have come together on a middle ground that sees Anunoby under contract through the 2023-24 season at the very least. This deal skews very team friendly (as did VanVleet’s) and should be considered a major win for the Raptors. Even though Anunoby has been a very low usage player, the market for players of his ilk is laden with big offer sheets – especially ahead of an offseason where a lot of teams have cap space, and a shrinking number of marquee free agents.

A fan favourite gets paid, and Masai Ujiri and Bobby Webster have once again shown their prowess as executives. Big win today for Raptors fans.

Have a blessed day.

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Semien addition helps Blue Jays’ defence, raises team’s offensive ceiling – Sportsnet.ca

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TORONTO — A week and a half ago, the Toronto Blue Jays had almost nothing to show for their off-season. Now that they’ve added Tyler Chatwood, Kirby Yates, George Springer and Marcus Semien this roster suddenly looks much different — and much better — than before

Bringing Semien in on a one-year, $18-million deal strengthens the Blue Jays’ infield and their batting order. While more work remains on the pitching staff, the team’s offensive depth looks better than it has in years following the addition of Semien, who finished third in AL MVP voting in 2019. The Blue Jays’ lineup now projects to be among baseball’s most prolific, but this most recent deal brings with it other repercussions worth discussing.

With Semien now the leading candidate for second base at-bats, Cavan Biggio likely becomes the team’s primary third baseman. On paper that works, but there’s no need to be overly rigid about those roles in January, and the Blue Jays do value versatility highly. It’d be a surprise if the Blue Jays limit Semien and Biggio to those spots all year.

On defence Semien remains an above-average defensive shortstop, according to FanGraphs (UZR/150 of 6.4 in 2018, 5.0 in 2019, 4.8 in 2020). When he’s playing second base, the skills that allow him to handle shortstop — a strong arm, good footwork and field awareness, for instance — will be highly transferable. In those moments, the Blue Jays will essentially have two shortstops up the middle. But should Bo Bichette need any time off, Semien can slot in easily at the only position he played from 2015-20.

One way or another, this addition should help the Blue Jays’ run prevention, one of the main goals for the front office this winter. At the same time, it does appear to complicate Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s path to regular starts at third. After an off-season of dedicated workouts Guerrero Jr.’s Instagram bio reads ‘Blue Jays 3B,’ and it stands to reason that the team will ensure he gets reps there in spring training, but with Biggio, Bichette and Semien in place, Guerrero Jr. more likely projects as the team’s first baseman.

With that in mind, the team’s batting order could look like this on any given day:

CF: George Springer (R)
SS: Bo Bichette (R)
1B: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (R)
RF: Teoscar Hernandez (R)
LF: Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (R)
3B: Cavan Biggio (L)
2B: Marcus Semien (R)
DH: Randal Grichuk (R) / Rowdy Tellez (L)
C: Danny Jansen (R)

Of course that’s just one possible structure among many, and teams rarely stick with one lineup for long in today’s game, but it illustrates the offensive depth this team now possesses. Some days, Rowdy Tellez (.886 OPS in 2020) might be on the bench. Other days it might be Randal Grichuk (12 HR, .793 OPS). At some point, Alejandro Kirk will get a chance to contribute, too.

Speaking of the Blue Jays’ bench, adding Semien might also allow for some creativity. Since Semien can handle shortstop, there’s less of a pressing need to roster Santiago Espinal which creates an opportunity to carry another bench bat or reliever.

With the addition of Semien, the Blue Jays now have the fourth-best projected offence in baseball behind only the Dodgers, Yankees and Astros. And if Semien is the guy he’s been for most of his career — a roughly league-average hitter with 15-homer power — that would certainly help. But there’s further upside here, too, as he showed by hitting 33 home runs with an .892 OPS in 2019.

Even this past season, there were flashes of that offensive potential. After a slow start in 2020, Semien had a .772 OPS from Aug. 8 through the end of the regular season then posted a 1.151 OPS with two home runs in the playoffs. If the Blue Jays get that version of Semien, their lineup gets much deeper.

From an organizational standpoint, he doesn’t become a core piece in the way Springer did. But while the Blue Jays’ outfield is devoid of top prospects, Jordan Groshans and Austin Martin lessen the need for long-term help on the infield. If a need exists in a year’s time, the Blue Jays could bring Semien back or even obtain a draft pick for extending him a qualifying offer — something the A’s did not do.

All of that’s a discussion for much later, though. Right now, the Blue Jays are a much better team with a deep lineup and an improved defence. They could certainly use more pitching, and there’s reason to believe their work isn’t done on that front, but the addition of Semien represents significant progress for a team that’s suddenly making a habit of big moves.

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Schilling: Take me off HOF ballot – TSN

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Curt Schilling is asking for his name to be removed from the Baseball Hall of Fame ballot for his 10th and final year of Baseball Writers’ Association of America voting eligibility.

“I will not participate in the final year of voting. I am requesting to be removed from the ballot. I’ll defer to the veterans committee and men whose opinions actually matter and who are in a position to actually judge a player,” he wrote on Facebook Tuesday.

“I’m now somehow in a conversation with two men who cheated, and instead of being accountable they chose to destroy others lives to protect their lie. I will always have one thing they will forever chase. A legacy,” he wrote of Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds, who will also enter their final year of Hall of Fame eligibility in 2022.

Click here to read Schilling’s full Facebook post.

Schilling missed being elected to Cooperstown this year by 16 votes. No players were elected to the class of 2021 as Bonds, Clemens and every other player on the ballot came up short of the required 75 per cent threshold.

Over 20 big league seasons, he compiled a record of 216-146, a 3.46 ERA, led the league in wins twice, was elected to six All-Star Teams, won three World Series titles and was named World Series MVP in 2001 after allowing a total of four earned runs in three separate starts. Schilling also owns a career bWAR of 79.5, which is higher than Brooks Robinson, Derek Jeter, Tony Gwynn and John Smoltz.

But then there’s the other side of Schilling, the side that has pushed voters away in recent years with inflammatory political commentary and accusations of Islamophobia, racism and transphobia. Schilling was first suspended from his job at ESPN for an anti-Muslim tweet and later fired for transphobic comments made on Facebook. He also defended the storming of the U.S. Capitol on Twitter on Jan. 6, however that came after ballots were due from members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. According to Forbes, numerous BBWAA members asked to amend their ballots following the tweet.

The Hall of Fame has yet to publicly responded to Schilling’s request.

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Blue Jays Rumors: Infielder Marcus Semien signs with Toronto – Bluebird Banter

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According to ESPN’s Jeff Passan and confirmed by the San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slussler, and others, free agent shortstop Marcus Semien has signed a one-year, $18 million contract with the Toronto Blue Jays.

Semien, 29, was drafted by the White Sox in the 6th round of the 2011 amateur draft and made his major league debut with Chicago in September 2013. After the 2014 season he was shipped to the Oakland Athletics in the Jeff Samardzija deal. While he mostly played at third base for the White Sox, Semien has been the A’s starting shortstop. He finished third in the AL MVP race in 2019, batting .285/.369/.522 with 33 homers and 92 RBI and playing in every single game. He doesn’t just bring an average-to-compelling bat—Semien was also named as a “finalist” for the 2019 Gold Glove award for American League shortstops.

His numbers in the shortened 2020 season were more in line with his career numbers, but the optimist in me believes that the numbers from later in the season is closer to who he is now than his numbers he put up during his slow start last year. If Semien thinks it’s worth betting on himself in signing this one-year deal, I think it’s worth betting on him.

According to both TSN’s Scott Mitchell and retired infielder Carlos Baerga, the Jays expect to station Semien at second base, which may just be what they are saying now while they give Vladimir Guerrero Jr. another try at the hot corner at spring training. This move does not necessarily affect Biggio’s place in the lineup, as he can rotate around the diamond to spell other players.

Although the one-year deal obviously means that the Semien would qualify for free agency after this season, the Blue Jays can opt to extend a qualifying offer to him as the Athletics failed to do so before his declaration of free agency this offseason.

Before this signing can become official, Semien will need to pass a physical and the Blue Jays will need to open up a spot on the 40-man roster.

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