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Monday with Mitchell: Breaking down the Blue Jays' trade chips – TSN

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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.

Big-league chips
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.
 
PROSPECT SPOTLIGHT

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.

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More people watched Seattle NHL expansion draft on ESPN2 than Cubs-Cards on ESPN – Awful Announcing

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In the grand scheme of things, 637,000 viewers nationally is not a huge number for a cable channel with any level of significant distribution. Most things on broadcast TV not only beat that, but beat it by quite a bit, and that kind of number isn’t usually even amongst the top cable broadcasts. However, the news that ESPN2 pulled that number in for its (NHL-produced, but featuring ESPN figures) coverage of the NHL expansion draft for the Seattle Kraken Wednesday night was certainly interesting, especially as so much of the actual news around that draft was reported in advance, and also given that their main-network coverage of the MLB game between the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals drew fewer viewers. Here’s a comparison of Wednesday night sporting events from John Ourand of Sports Business Journal:

On the negative side, that draft didn’t even draw the numbers of studio show Pardon The Interruption (however, that airs on ESPN rather than ESPN2; they’re similar in distribution, but many people turn on main ESPN first). It also didn’t draw the numbers of early Olympic programming from NBCSN. On the positive side, it outdrew a national MLB game. And it drew more than the Vegas Golden Knights’ expansion draft five years ago (595,000 on NBCSN for a combined broadcast of that draft and the NHL Awards). And it’s a good sign for ESPN, as this is their first big NHL event they aired under their new deal.

And yes, as Ourand noted in a follow-up tweet, that Cubs-Cards game didn’t have regional sports network blackouts, so Cubs and Cardinals fans could still watch it on their local RSNs. And most probably did, so it likely primarily pulled the national audience that didn’t have those RSNs. But it’s still interesting to see an ESPN2 event outdraw an ESPN event, especially when the ESPN event is a live game and the ESPN2 event is a one-team expansion draft (and one where most of the information was previously available to the public).

If ESPN versus ESPN2 programming decisions were made strictly from a standpoint of what they thought would draw more viewers, this result would go against that. That’s not entirely the case here, as the MLB on ESPN package comes with some restrictions on where games can air. But it’s still interesting to see the NHL expansion draft on ESPN2 outdraw a live MLB game between two prominent teams.

That is also perhaps further evidence that draft “spoilers” don’t always damage the ratings that much. That’s long been a debate, from the NFL’s heavy pushes against pick-tipping to the NBA’s more moderate approach (which sees pick-tipping still happen with some different language, and which hasn’t really led to obvious ratings losses).

In the case of this draft, figures who don’t work for expansion draft rightsholders Sportsnet (Canada) and ESPN (U.S.) reported many of the picks early, with Frank Seravalli (formerly of TSN, now of Daily Faceoff) and Pierre LeBrun (TSN/The Athletic) getting many of those, other national figures getting some more, and local reporters getting some others. So a mostly-full picture was available before the broadcast for those who wanted to find it. But that didn’t stop a significant amount of people from watching this, and that maybe shows that the league pushes against pick-tipping aren’t always that impactful.

[John Ourand on Twitter]

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Cleveland changes MLB team nickname to Guardians after months of discussion – CBC.ca

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Known as the Indians since 1915, Cleveland’s Major League Baseball team will be called Guardians.

The ball club announced the name change Friday with a video on Twitter narrated by actor Tom Hanks, ending months of internal discussions triggered by a national reckoning by institutions and teams to permanently drop logos and names that are considered racist.

The choice of Guardians will undoubtedly be criticized by many of the club’s die-hard fans.

The organization spent most of the past year whittling down a list of potential names that was at nearly 1,200 just over a month ago. But the process quickly accelerated and the club landed on Guardians.

Social unrest spurred name change

Team owner Paul Dolan said last summer’s social unrest, touched off by the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, spurred his intention to change the name.

Dolan is expected to provide more details on the choice and background on the change at a news conference at Progressive Field before Cleveland hosts the Tampa Bay Rays.

Dolan said the new name mirrors the city and its people.

“Cleveland has and always will be the most important part of our identity,” he said in a statement. “Therefore, we wanted a name that strongly represents the pride, resiliency and loyalty of Clevelanders. ‘Guardians’ reflects those attributes that define us.”

In 2018, the team stopped wearing the contentious Chief Wahoo logo on their jerseys and caps. However, the team continues to sell merchandise bearing the smiling, red-faced caricature that was protested for decades by Native American groups.

The name change has sparked lively debate among the city’s passionate sports fans. Other names, including the Spiders, which is what the team was once called, were pushed by supporters on social media platforms.

But Guardians does seem to fit the team’s objective to find a name that embodies Cleveland’s ethos while preserving the team’s history and uniting the community.

Not far from the downtown ballpark, there are two large landmark stone edifices — referred to as guardians — on the Hope Memorial Bridge over the Cuyahoga River.

The team’s colours will remain the same, and the new Guardians’ new logos will incorporate some of the architectural features of the bridge.

The change comes as the Washington Football Team continues to work toward a similar makeover. The franchise dropped its name before the 2020 season and said it will reveal a new name and logo in 2022.

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LIVE BLOG: Opening ceremony kicks off 2020 Olympics in Tokyo – Global News

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After being postponed for a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 Tokyo Olympics has officially kicked off.

The Olympic Games opening ceremony is typically a chance for competing countries and athletes to show off their pride and culture, but this year will be a little different.

Normally held in a stadium full of ecstatic fans, this year’s ceremony will have international athletes parade around a near-empty venue after it was announced fans would not be allowed to attend because of rising COVID-19 cases in Japan.

Read more:
Fireworks light up Tokyo sky as 2020 Olympics officially begin amid pandemic

Athletes from around the world, including Canada, are taking part in the ceremony for the Summer Games, which will run until Aug. 8.

Canada has sent 370 athletes to the Olympics, the nation’s largest delegation since 1984.


Click to play video: 'Team Canada names flag-bearers for Tokyo Olympic Games'



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Team Canada names flag-bearers for Tokyo Olympic Games


Team Canada names flag-bearers for Tokyo Olympic Games

But only 30 to 40 athletes are marching into the Olympic Stadium, the Canadian Olympic Committee has previously said, saying athletes aren’t allowed into the Olympic Village until five days before they compete.

Many of them will be too close to the start of their competition to join flagbearers Miranda Ayim of the women’s basketball team and men’s rugby sevens co-captain Nathan Hirayama.

Read more:
Canada at the Tokyo Olympics — Who’s competing, attending opening ceremony Friday

The ceremony’s theme is “United by Emotion,” as officials are aspiring to reaffirm the role of sport and the value of the Olympic Games, express gratitude and admiration for the efforts made over the past year, and also bring a sense of hope for the future, the Olympics website says.

Despite all the difficulties the International Olympic Committee has faced to stage the Games amid a global pandemic, president Thomas Bach previously said he believes the ceremonies will be a moment of “joy and relief.”

The event runs from 7 a.m. ET to 11 a.m. ET

You can follow along here.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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