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What the Blake Snell trade means for Blue Jays, trade market, AL East –



TORONTO – If you consider how the Tampa Bay Rays used Blake Snell in Game 6 of the World Series, their decision to trade him to San Diego isn’t surprising at all.

Snell, the 2018 American League Cy Young winner, had nine strikeouts with just one run allowed against the Dodgers in Game 6 only to get pulled after 5.1 innings. When the Rays’ bullpen blew the save and the Dodgers won it all, controversy followed: did the Rays make the right bet only to lose, or did their relentless pursuit of an edge get in the way of common sense?

Two months later, the Rays are again moving on from Snell before they have to, this time in a trade with San Diego. The Padres are reinforcing their status as one of baseball’s most interesting teams by agreeing to acquire Snell for pitcher Luis Patino, catcher Francisco Mejia and prospects Blake Hunt and Cole Wilcox.

With that, Snell joins Chris Paddack, Dinelson Lamet and Mackenzie Gore atop a talented rotation and the Padres become an even bigger threat to the Dodgers. In the AL East, meanwhile, there are significant ramifications, too…

Rays threading the needle

Without Snell and Charlie Morton, the Rays are a worse team in 2021. But there’s upside coming back to Tampa Bay here, and of course, that should be the case in any deal for Snell. While top free-agent starters often earn upwards of $30 million per season, Snell’s set to earn a total of $40.8 million over the next three seasons. That gave him massive trade value.

Patino, who began the 2020 season as Baseball America’s No. 18-ranked prospect, should contribute at the MLB level in 2021. At this point, he’s more raw (96.7 m.p.h. average fastball velocity) than polished (14 walks in 17.1 MLB innings), but he just turned 21. Plus, the addition of Mejia helps considering the Rays’ need for catching depth and the additional prospects bolster an already deep Tampa Bay system.

It might be a soulless move reminiscent of the trades involving David Price and Evan Longoria and Chris Archer. And yes, the Rays will likely project as a worse team in 2021 now. But this move is designed with the long view in mind, and the Rays have won far more trades than they’ve lost. It’ll be at least a year or two before we know where this one ranks, but in the meantime, this team should still be considered a threat to win the American League East.

Many AL East teams now seeking arms

It’s not just the Rays who have a depleted starting rotation right now. All four teams with any chance of advancing out of the AL East are short-handed as well. Consider that…

•Even though they added Michael Wacha, the Rays are without Morton and Snell.

•The Yankees lost Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton and J.A. Happ to free agency.

• If the season started today, Boston’s third starter might be Tanner Houck or Matt Andriese.

•Though they re-signed Robbie Ray, the Blue Jays must add more starting pitching after losing Taijuan Walker and Matt Shoemaker to free agency.

To this point, this off-season has been moving incredibly slowly, but between now and the start of spring training those four teams will be competing for some of the same arms. And at some point, the action has to pick up, doesn’t it? January has a chance to be as interesting as November and December have been quiet.

What would the Blue Jays’ equivalent offer have been?

It was just last summer that the Blue Jays and Rays completed a trade for Eric Sogard, but that was a minor deal at a time that the Blue Jays were still deep in a rebuild. Completing a trade for a player of Snell’s calibre while both clubs are competitive would surely be more complicated.

With that caveat in mind, what might a comparable offer have looked like from the Blue Jays? Perhaps a top pitching prospect like Simeon Woods Richardson or Alek Manoah would have played the part of Patino while Danny Jansen (25 years old, .668 lifetime OPS, 2.050 years of service time) looks like a fair comp for Mejia (25 years old, .668 lifetime OPS, 2.054 years of service time). Add in two younger prospects and you have a comparable offer.

Does the Snell deal set a precedent for Reds?

Clearly, the Padres paid a significant price here, converting prospect depth into frontline pitching for the second time in four months (deadline acquisition Mike Clevinger underwent Tommy John surgery in November with a view toward a 2022 return). In San Diego, there are presumably more moves to come from GM A.J. Preller, but around baseball, the Snell deal will be a useful reference point.

That may be especially true in Cincinnati, where right-hander Luis Castillo appears to be on the trade block. Castillo, who was born one week and one day after Snell, has similarly impressive stuff and, like Snell, three years of club control remaining. If the Reds do listen on the right-hander, they have every reason to expect a comparable return.

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Sinclair to lead Canadian women’s team in her fourth Olympics



Christine Sinclair, the all-time international goal-scoring record holder, was named to her fourth Olympic squad on Wednesday and will headline a Canadian roster at the Tokyo Games that features a mix of veterans and youth.

Led by Sinclair, whose 186 goals for her country are the most by a female or male soccer player worldwide, Canada won medals at both the 2012 and 2016 Olympics and was the only nation to make the podium in both competitions.

“I am looking forward to doing whatever I can to help take this team back to the podium and make history again,” said Canadian captain Sinclair. “Our team is in a good spot, we are excited, we are hungry and we are ready to go.”

The 18-player roster features 12 members of the squad that competed at the 2016 Rio Games while a quintet including Vanessa Gilles, Jayde Riviere, Julia Grosso, Adriana Leon, and Evelyne Viens will be making their Olympic debuts.

Goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan travelled to Rio in 2016 as an alternate.

Canada will kick off their Tokyo 2020 journey when they face Japan on July 21 and continue Group E play against Chile on July 24 and Britain on July 27.

(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto, editing by Ed Osmond)

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Which of the Canadians Picked in the 2021 NFL Draft Will Thrive This Season?



It was a good NFL Draft for Canadian players in 2021.

Some four stars from north of the border were selected by NFL franchises in the free agency pick ‘em, and that is tied as the highest number of Canadians drafted in the 85-year history of the event.

Of course, the hope is that these young talents are more than just filler and roster depth, but can any of the quartet make the breakthrough into the big time?

Here’s a look at which of the NFL’s newest Canadian additions can shine in 2021/22.

Jevon Holland

The defensive back was the number 36 pick in the Draft by the Miami Dolphins, who beat off a number of rivals in the hunt for the Coquitlam native.

A versatile defender, Holland is a former Jim Thorpe Award semi-finalist thanks to his exploits in the NCAA back in 2019 with the University of Oregon.

He sat out the 2020 campaign, but representatives from dozens of NFL teams were in town to watch Holland go through his paces at the Oregon Pro Day.

The 21-year-old is following in the footsteps of his father Robert, who turned out for the Detroit Lions, and he is expected to force his way into the starting line-up at the Dolphins. And, who knows, maybe Holland could go all the way in his first season, with Miami priced at +2500 in the Super Bowl 2022 American football odds.

Benjamin St-Juste

When you’re six foot three, 205 pounds and still able to run 40 yards in 4.51 seconds, it goes without saying that you have the physical credentials to succeed in the NFL.

Benjamin St-Juste is the man that can, and he will bolster the roster at a Washington Football Team that will be looking to improve upon their playoff showing in 2020.

The 23-year-old may only have been a third-round pick, but he comes with a burgeoning reputation thanks to a successful time at the University of Minnesota. An All-Big Ten special mention in 2019, more than 50 NFL recruitment personnel attended the college’s pro day – largely to catch a glimpse of St-Juste going through his paces.

Both Brian Gutekunst and Jon Robinson made the trip but, in the end, it was Washington who snapped up the powerhouse from the Draft.

Chuba Hubbard

The third Canadian to be drafted in 2021 was Chuba Hubbard, who became the first Canadian running back to be selected from the Draft in 25 years.

It’s the Carolina Panthers who have taken a chance on the 22-year-old and with his credentials, you can see why. Hubbard finished eighth in the voting for the Heisman Trophy in 2019 after a stellar campaign – he served up 2,094 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns, an NCAA best. He was named the Big 12 Conference Offensive Player of the Year.

While running backs are not the hottest of properties in the Draft, Hubbard provably has the talent to cross into the end zone with regularity – the Panthers might just have got their hands on an unheralded gem here.

With these three Canadians taking the step up to the NFL, the future of the sport north of the border looks in safe hands.

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Berrettini ends Murray’s comeback at Queen’s



Andy Murray‘s grasscourt return was cut short in brutal fashion at Queen’s Club as Italian top seed Matteo Berrettini dished out a 6-3 6-3 defeat to the former world number one on Thursday.

The 34-year-old two-time Wimbledon champion, playing in his first singles tournament on grass for three years, could not handle the ferocious pace of Berrettini as he slid to defeat.

Murray eased past Benoit Paire in his opening match on Tuesday but world number nine Berrettini was too big a step up.

Berrettini’s huge first serve and forehand did most of the damage but the Italian also showed plenty of silky touch on the slick lawns to register his first career win over Murray.

Berrettini, 25, finished the match off with a powerful hold of serve, banging down four massive first serves before sealing victory with a clubbing forehand winner.

He faces British number one Dan Evans in the quarter-final after Evans beat Frenchman Adrian Mannarino.

Murray, a five-time winner of the traditional warm-up event but now ranked 124 after long battles with hip injuries including resurfacing surgery in 2019, has been handed a wildcard for the Wimbledon championships.

Apart from a slight groin niggle, Murray said he was reasonably happy with his condition, considering this was only his third Tour-level tournament of the year.

“I think obviously I need to improve,” Murray told reporters. “I actually felt my movement was actually quite good for both of the matches. My tennis today was not very good today. That’s the thing that I’ll need to improve the most.

“I felt like today that that sort of showed my lack of matches.”

Spanish veteran Feliciano Lopez, who won the singles title in 2019 and the doubles alongside Murray, was beaten 6-2 6-3 by Canada‘s Denis Shapovalov.

(Reporting by Martyn HermanEditing by Toby Davis and Pritha Sarkar)

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