TORONTO — We know the Toronto Blue Jays are buyers heading into the July 30 trade deadline.
But what will they have to sell in order to get what they need?
Luckily, armed with a minor-league system that is robust enough to deliver whatever major-league talent GM Ross Atkins wants to go get, the Jays are in a great position.
Thanks to the depth and redundancy in certain areas, the Jays will not need to completely tear the system apart to make an impact trade or two, either.
Taking a look at each type of trade chip, here are a handful of names — you can get more in depth on all of them here in our top 50 Jays prospects list for 2021 — to keep in mind this month as Atkins’ trade targets start to become clear.
C Alejandro Kirk
LF Lourdes Gurriel Jr.
C Reese McGuire
The two most asked about areas of the Jays’ roster over the past couple of off-seasons have been their deep catching pipeline, as well as outfielders Gurriel Jr. and Teoscar Hernandez.
While Hernandez has settled in to become an all-star, Gurriel has struggled both with the bat and defensively in left field. Under control for three more seasons after this one, LGJ’s still a valuable trade chip, but the Jays would love for him to get hot over the next three weeks.
Ditto for Kirk, who’s hitting well on a Triple-A rehab assignment as he recovers from a hip injury.
The Jays need to sort out their catching situation and Kirk is by far the best bat, but he might also fetch the most in a trade, with Danny Jansen and McGuire, who cleared waivers earlier this year, probably not having much value.
If Atkins is going to subtract from his group of big-league position players, Kirk and Gurriel and are the most likely candidates.
Elite trade chips
3B/SS Jordan Groshans
3B/SS Orelvis Martinez
RHP Sem Robberse
You’ll notice there’s no Austin Martin, Gabriel Moreno or Simeon Woods Richardson here. I don’t think those three top prospects are on the table, so we have to dig down a little further to the next level of elite depth in the system.
Groshans and Martinez are the top trade chips, but they won’t be on the move for anything less than an impact arm with control left. Rentals won’t be able to pry these guys away.
Robberse isn’t an elite trade chip from a national perspective, but the 19-year-old Dutch hurler is impressing at Low-A Dunedin, striking out 11.8 batters per nine with a four-pitch mix that’s led by a whiff-generating curveball.
He’s the type of lower-level pitching prospect you can build a package around.
Upper minors chips
SS Kevin Smith
C Riley Adams
INF/OF Otto Lopez
Kevin Smith’s resurgence this year at Triple-A has been lovely for the Jays, giving them an upper-level middle infielder with speed and power, one who any team could’ve plucked for nothing in the Rule 5 Draft last December.
Having just turned 25 on July 4, Smith is close to major-league ready and could help solve the Jays’ own third base hole as a utility bench option, but every rebuilding team should be trying to give this guy an everyday shortstop role to see whether the 12 homers and 10 steals from Triple-A will translate to the majors.
As mentioned above, there’s a logjam of catchers in the upper levels and the front office will have to make a move sooner or later.
Lopez is already on the 40-man roster and quietly enjoying another productive season with the bat, slashing .354/.410/.485 with a pair of homers and six steals in 49 games.
Lower level gems
SS Leo Jimenez
INF Miguel Hiraldo
RHP Roither Hernandez
Jimenez, 20, added some size and strength this off-season and while it hasn’t manifested in over-the-fence power, there’s definitely some more juice in the bat. When you combine that with his solid actions and tools at shortstop, you quietly have one of the better prospects in the system.
The third name in the prospect-heavy infield at Low-A with Martinez and Jimenez is Hiraldo, who has yet to have the breakout season with the stick that many are imaging.
A third base/second base tweener type, the compact right-handed hitter has started walking more than ever this season, upping his BB rate to 11.3 per cent. That’s a good sign for the 20-year-old.
Hernandez, who I had at No. 41 on the top 50 list back in February, is a live arm with the typical fastball/slider bullpen look.
The gangly Dominican has been touching 98-99 mph and getting good results in A-ball with a 2.52 ERA and 34 Ks across 25 frames.
As with any organization, there are a few under-the-radar arms flashing in A-ball that will draw interest, including Naswell Paulino, Alejandro Melean, Lazaro Estrada, Adrian Hernandez, Jol Concepcion and Luis Quinones.
THINGS I PROBABLY TWEETED
Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Marcus Semien, Teoscar Hernandez and Bo Bichette landing on the AL all-star squad is impressive, but it still doesn’t equal the seven players the 1993 Jays sent. Chalk up a point for yourself if you can name them without Googling … You can make the case Semien is trending towards being worth George Springer money on the open market this winter. Heading into his age-31 season, Semien will be the same age Springer was last winter, he’s graded out as one of the best defensive second basemen in baseball and earned his all-star game start on the back of 21 homers and a huge .286/.349/.542 slash line. It’s doubtful he’ll get the 6/150 Springer did, but what’s he worth? It’s clearly a lot if he keeps up anything close to this pace … At the exact halfway point of the season over the weekend, the Jays landed on 43-38, which means nothing unless you have them winning 86 games this year. The issue with that March prediction is they’re better than their record shows, without a doubt … You can’t say the Jays haven’t been consistent in the first half. From 12-12 in April to 15-13 in May to 14-12 in June to now 2-2 in July, the .500 mark has been a constant companion.
STAT DIG: 670 or 691
If the Blue Jays have their way, that’s the number of days they’ll have mercifully endured between games at their home ballpark in Toronto.
A year after their first attempt to convince the federal government to allow them to play games north of the border, the Jays are back at it again this month, eyeing two potential dates and hoping to get approval: July 30 or August 20.
Both mark the start of homestands and — like last year — the municipal and provincial arms of government, according to sources, have already given their support, once again leaving the closed border and all of the quarantine nuances that come with it as the most important hurdle.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“I think we’ve done what we’ve done this year, and we haven’t clicked on the same cylinder all at once yet. We’ve had some moments in this series and this homestand, but we can definitely be better. We’re really confident. We know we’re better. We’ll just continue to work hard, play hard and see what happens.”
—Bo Bichette on clubhouse mood ahead of all-star break
THE CALL-UP LIST
Five players closest to a promotion to the big leagues when a need arises:
1—LHP Ryan Borucki, Triple-A rehab: Borucki hasn’t pitched since May 7 when he was shelved with another elbow injury, but the lefty threw live BP recently and should be ready for a rehab stint this week.
2—C Alejandro Kirk, Triple-A rehab: He’s slashing .385/.474/.692 in five games with the Bisons, but he may have to bide his time for a couple weeks.
3—RHP Thomas Hatch, Triple-A rehab: Hatch spun his longest outing of the year in his most recent tuneup, going five full frames while allowing three earned runs and walking three.
4—RHP Julian Merryweather, rehab: The oft-injured 29-year-old’s rehab continues to inch along from an April oblique injury and he’s expected to throw off a mound soon.
5—1B Rowdy Tellez, Triple-A: He’s running out of chances, but Tellez has hit .297 and swatted three homers in 10 games since being demoted.
Highlighting one player in the system that you need to know about:
2B/OF Samad Taylor, Double-A New Hampshire
Acquired four years ago at the trade deadline from Cleveland in exchange for reliever Joe Smith, Taylor has always been a toolsy prospect, blessed with great wheels and some pop.
Until this year, however, Taylor had failed to put it all together, even spending some time dabbling in Australian winter ball this year.
Assigned to a team littered with top prospects, Taylor has been right alongside the now-injured Gabriel Moreno in stuffing the stat sheet on a nightly basis, slashing .303/.393/.567 with 12 homers and 17 stolen bases.
The main issue in the profile is Taylor is still striking out at a 31 per cent clip, but the swing-and-miss becomes more acceptable with this newfound pop.
Like Kevin Smith a level above him, Taylor needs to be added to the 40-man roster by November so his timely breakout could turn him into a trade chip.
Makar gets love from Orr after winning 2022 Norris, Conn Smythe Trophies – NHL.com
Canuck icons Henrik, Daniel Sedin, Sens star Alfredsson lead 2022 Hockey Hall of Fame class – CBC Sports
Henrik and Daniel Sedin entered the NHL together.
The superstar twins then tormented a generation of opponents with the Vancouver Canucks throughout dominant careers that included mesmerizing displays of skill, individual accolades and unprecedented team success.
It’s only fitting the talented brothers will walk into the Hockey Hall of Fame side-by-side.
The Sedins headline the class of 2022 elected Monday, one with a decidedly West Coast and Swedish feel that includes former Canucks teammate Roberto Luongo, fellow countryman and former Ottawa Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson, Finnish women’s player Riikka Sallinen and builder Herb Carnegie.
“It’s not what you think about when you when you play the game,” said Henrik Sedin, who along with his brother and Luongo were in their first years of hall eligibility. “We’ve always just put our head down and tried to put in our work.
“What we were most proud of is that we got the most out of our talent.”
“Truly an amazing feeling,” Luongo added on a media conference call. “It feels surreal.”
WATCH | Daniel and Henrik Sedin have numbers retired in Vancouver:
Alfredsson, who’s has been eligible since 2017, thought he might have to wait at least another year until the phone rang at his home in Sweden.
“It’s such a privilege to be able to play this sport for a living,” he said. “Something I would have played for fun for my whole life without a question.”
“I’m probably the second-best Daniel out of this group,” joked Daniel Sedin, who along with his brother will be 42 when the induction ceremony takes place in November.
“Couldn’t be more honoured.”
Henrik Sedin — selected No. 3 overall at the 1999 draft, one spot behind Daniel — is Vancouver’s all-time leader in assists (830), points (1,070), games played (1,330) and power-play points (369).
The centre won the Hart Trophy as NHL MVP and the Art Ross Trophy as its leading scorer in 2009-10. He added 23 goals and 78 points in 105 playoff games, including the Canucks’ run to the 2011 Stanley Cup final.
If Henrik was the passer on what was one of hockey’s most dangerous lines, Daniel Sedin was the trigger man.
His 393 goals are first in team history, and the winger sits second in assists (648), points (1,041), games played (1,306) and power-play points (367).
Daniel Sedin won the Ted Lindsay Award as the league MVP as voted by NHL Players’ Association members in 2010-11 to go along with the Art Ross Trophy. He added 71 points in 102 playoff games.
“Just watching them work with each other on the ice and literally knowing where they are without even seeing each other was something that always blew my mind,” Luongo said of the Sedins. “They’re great teammates. Everybody loved them, great people.
“Not so great card players, but that’s for another day.”
The hall’s 2020 edition was finally inducted last November after a delay because of the COVID-19 pandemic after officials decided against naming a class of 2021.
The 18-member selection committee met in-person this year for the first time since 2019.
Luongo’s storied career began with Islanders
Luongo started his career with the New York Islanders and wrapped up with the Florida Panthers.
His best moments, however, were on the West Coast.
When he retired, Luongo ranked third in NHL history with 489 wins, a number that’s since been surpassed by Marc-Andre Fleury.
The 43-year-old sits second behind Martin Brodeur in three goaltending categories — games played (1,044), shots against (30,924) and saves (28,409).
Luongo twice won 40 games with the Canucks, including an eye-popping 47 victories in 2006-07, and made at least 70 appearances in four straight seasons.
“He was the difference for us to get the next level,” Henrik Sedin said. “If you’re talking about a winner, he’s the guy.
“Never took a day off.”
A finalist for the Vezina Trophy as the league’s top netminder on three occasions, Luongo sat behind only Sidney Crosby in Hart Trophy voting following his 47-win campaign.
The Montreal native won two Olympic gold medals, leading Canada to the top of the podium in Vancouver in 2010 before backing up Carey Price in Sochi four years later.
“It’s a really, truly humbling experience,” Luongo said before adding of the Sedins: “And the best part of the whole thing is that I get to go in with two of my favourite teammates of all time and two of the greatest people I know.”
Best line in hockey <br><br>Luongo-Sedin-Sedin
Alfredsson scored 444 goals in 18 seasons
Alfredsson put up 444 goals, 713 assists and 1,157 points during his 18 NHL seasons.
The face of the Senators for a generation in the nation’s capital won the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s rookie of the year in 1996, and added 100 points in 124 playoff contests.
“We looked up to the way he plays hockey and what kind of person he is,” Henrik Sedin said.
Alfredsson, who won Olympic gold with the Sedins in 2006 and led Ottawa to the 2007 Cup final, thanked Senators fans for helping him get over the hall hump, including a social media campaign this spring that included boosts from the organization and former teammates.
“Really special with the support I’ve had from Ottawa throughout my career from the beginning until this day,” said the 49-year-old, who owns the franchise record for goals, assists and points. “They’ve been a real big supporter of mine and trying to help me get into the Hall of Fame.
“They’re behind me all the way … it goes both ways.”
Sallinen played 16 seasons with the Finnish women’s national team, winning Olympic bronze in both 1998 and 2018.
She added a silver at the 2019 world championships to go along with six third-place finishes. In all, the 48-year-old scored 63 goals and added 59 assists in 81 games for her country.
Hall of Fame selection committee chair Mike Gartner, who was inducted in 2012, said on the media call that Sallinen had yet to be informed of the honour, but quipped she should pick up the phone and dial in if she was listening.
Carnegie, who died in March 2012 at age 92, has often been mentioned as the best Black hockey player to never play in the NHL.
Following a long career in senior hockey where he faced racism that kept him from achieving his ultimate dream, Carnegie founded Future Aces, one of Canada’s first hockey schools, in 1955.
He was inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in 2001, the Ontario Sports Hall of Fame in 2014, and was also named to the Order of Ontario and the Order of Canada.
“This is so important to so many people out there who believed in my father,” said Herb Carnegie’s daughter, Bernice. “Whether he was golfing or whether he was in business or whether he was working with thousands upon thousands of young people, it always came back to hockey and how his how he learned so much from the game.
“I am so proud.”
Report: Nets’ Kyrie Irving opting into $37M player option for 2022-23 season – Sportsnet.ca
NEW YORK — Kyrie Irving has decided to exercise his $36.9 million option for the coming season and will remain under contract with the Brooklyn Nets, two people with knowledge of his decision said Monday.
The people spoke on condition of anonymity to The Associated Press because the Nets had not confirmed the decision publicly.
The Athletic first reported Irving’s decision. “Normal people keep the world going, but those who dare to be different lead us into tomorrow. I’ve made my decision to opt in. See you in the fall,” the outlet quoted Irving as saying.
On Twitter, Irving posted a separate statement: “I know who I am,” was the message there.
For now, that still means a member of the Nets.
The seven-time All-Star averaged 27.4 points and 5.8 assists this past season for the Nets, with whom he has spent the last three seasons. He’s about to enter the final season in a four-year, $137 million deal with Brooklyn.
Irving had until Wednesday to inform the Nets of his opt-in decision. It closes one element of the ongoing saga regarding Irving’s future, which has been one of the biggest storylines as the league prepares for the start of free agency later this week.
He appeared in only 29 regular-season games this past season, largely because of his decision to not be vaccinated against COVID-19. That made him ineligible to play in most of Brooklyn’s home games, until getting an exemption to New York City’s mandate in the spring.
The Nets entered this past season thinking they would have a core of Irving, Kevin Durant and James Harden. It didn’t work out anywhere near as planned; Irving wasn’t with the team for the majority of the season, Harden ended up getting traded to Philadelphia, the Nets needed to survive the play-in tournament just to make the playoffs and wound up getting swept in the first round by eventual Eastern Conference champion Boston.
Back in March, Irving was asked if he was planning to return to Brooklyn for next season. He gave no indication otherwise.
“I love it here,” Irving said at the time. “Once that summertime hits, I know that we’ll have some conversations. But there’s no way I can leave my man 7 anywhere.”
Summertime hit. The conversations apparently didn’t go as first planned.
And “my man 7” — that meant Durant, who wears jersey No. 7 for the Nets — may have been seeing his point guard departing, a move that certainly could have led to Durant pondering his own future in Brooklyn.
But with Irving presumably back, and with Ben Simmons — who didn’t play at all this season and was acquired by the Nets in the Harden trade — set to team up alongside Irving and Durant this coming season, Brooklyn could quickly return to contender status.
Irving could have made this all go away over the weekend, or at least turned the full boil down closer to simmer, when asked by Complex News at the BET Awards if he still wants to play for the Nets. He declined to answer. He wasn’t rude about it, did it with a smile, but didn’t provide so much as a hint.
A tiny one came Monday when the clip was posted to Instagram and Irving was among those to comment.
“When I smile like that, it means there’s more to the story,” Irving wrote Monday, several hours before his opt-in decision was revealed. “I’ll have my time to address things.”
NBA free agency opens Thursday at 6 p.m. ET.
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