Rachael McDaniel has a beautiful piece up at BP Toronto, titled Doug Ault and the Triumph of Joy. Go read it. We’ll wait.
Elsewhere at BP Toronto, Joshua Howsam lays out the case for why we should believe in Dominic Leone. “Everything he did in 2017 suggests that he should be good again in 2018,” Josh tells us. “His stuff changed, then he adjusted how he used it to maximize his success (likely with the help of Russell Martin and Pete Walker).” I CAN LIVE WITH THAT!
Morgan Campbell of the Toronto Star has a rather interesting look at Marcus Stroman’s second career, as a pitch-man, and his recent break-up with Jordan Brand. In it he tells us of “the minefield of overlapping sponsorships that brand-conscious athletes are forced to navigate as they seek to balance entrepreneurship with a dizzying array of corporate partnerships.” Great stuff.
Elsewhere at Toronto Star, Richard Griffin suggests that the Jays’ arbitration-avoiding agreement with Josh Donaldson, which was noticeably higher than MLBTR projected, could pay off for the club long-term. Griff also has one on Canadian baseball and its current wealth of top-end talent.
Ian Hunter does a great job of picking up on an interview Aaron Sanchez did as the Blue Jays’ winter tour visited Vancouver over the weekend. In a piece over at the Blue Jay Hunter he passes along this quote that makes it sound like a vital piece of the Jays’ rotation is making good progress in his recovery from the blister problems that plagued his 2017: “I’m 100%, I’ve been throwing for four weeks now. I’ll be throwing off a mound next week. Everything’s good, though. I just needed time. Time’s the only thing that helped. I was still trying to come back during the year and I was kind of prolonging that. Once the offseason came and I took the time off, I took 13 weeks off; no nothing. No gripping, no anything. Everything feels good.”
MLBTR takes a look at some of the high water marks for extensions for pitchers and position players beyond five and six years of service time. This, of course, relates back to Josh Donaldson, who we all hope the Jays will figure out a way to extend (my most recent thoughts on that here). Donaldson right now has between five and six years of service time, the record-breaking extension for which went to Matt Kemp, who signed an eight-year, $160 million extension between 2011 and 2012, when he was a 27-year-old MVP. Adrian Gonzalez also got a big deal from the Red Sox which actually has worked out very well (he’s produced 23 WAR since then), but he was 29. Donaldson is 32 now. If Josh is looking at someone like Adrian Beltre, who produced 31.5 WAR from age 32 to 36, and almost a half win more (per Baseball Reference) from age 33 to age 37, as a comparable, he maybe even thinks such deals are in sight, given that such production translates to $250 million at $8 million per win. But it’s hard to see many front offices thinking that’s a reasonable bet. Figure out a fair number, fellas!
Speaking of, I wonder if the deal J.D. Martinez ultimately ends up with will help the Jays and Donaldson better understand what might really be out there for a 33-year-old Josh next winter. If so, it might be a while before we know: at Fan Rag, Jon Heyman writes that Martinez and the Red Sox are in a stalemate — and why wouldn’t they be? It’s not like anyone else is going to sign him. (Sure, the Diamondbacks are mentioned, but it’s hard to see him land anywhere but fucking Boston.)
Back to MLBTR, they point to Shi Davidi’s piece on the Solarte trade and pull out something I’d missed: in addition to previously reported names like Lorenzo Cain and Alex Cobb, he says the Jays have checked on Lance Lynn and Jarrod Dyson, too. MLBTR suggests this is the first time it’s been reported that the Jays have actually at least kicked the tires on those guys, though they’re names we have certainly heard as possible fits.
I don’t know how much I really believe the Jays might land Cain, given the cost and the draft pick attached and the fact that he’s better suited to centre, where the Jays have Kevin Pillar now, Anthony Alford coming, and Dalton Pompey far from out of the equation as well. If he does fall far enough into their laps for them to make a deal, though — — which, fuck, might even happen — good news! Mike Petriello of MLB.com makes the case that his profile suggests a player who will age quite well.
An awesome one from our friend Jonah Birenbaum, who has a piece up on Medium arguing that the Jays ought to give Jonathan Lucroy the Matt Wieters contract. Interesting idea!
Over at Bluebird Banter, Minor Leaguer has a great chat with Danny Jansen, the fast-rising catching prospect who would probably be on the radar as a glove-first guy regardless, but who made huge strides as a hitter in 2017. Hoping it sticks! (Also notable for glasses talk, for all you glassholes out there… which is, of course, a thing I just made up.)
At BlueJays.com, Gregor Chisholm examines the Jays’ bullpen, which looks to be a source of strength for the club in the upcoming season.
The content continues to churn over at Jays Journal, where today on piece looks at the possibility of trading Devon Travis for something (because, you know, selling low on guys for no reason is always a great move, and teams usually line the fuck up for guys who’ve played 62, 101, and 50 games over the last three years as full-time players), while another demands the Jays strike now for Andrew McCutchen (which obviously matters not now, but… uh… it’s not like they missed on this deal because they didn’t strike quickly enough). I don’t envy the folks working at a site that demands so much content regardless of whether there’s any actual news or anyone actually has anything insightful to say about the club at a given moment or not, and I feel bad sometimes for pointing this out so much, but the eyes, they keep a-rollin’.
Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press tweets that the Jays have re-signed infielder Jon Berti to a minor league deal. Cue quotes from a problematic 1968 Peter Sellers movie.
The Buffalo Bisons are having a big “Hot Stove Prospect Showcase” on Wednesday (a precursor to many of the best known kids in the organization showing up at the Jays’ own Winter Fest on Saturday), but if you don’t have tickets you’re already out of luck — the Bisons have tweeted that the event is now sold out.
Lastly, a good one for what is Martin Luther King Day in the States: Pitch Talks has announced (via Facebook) a February 1st show at the Rivoli in Toronto, featuring Bob Kendrick, president of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. Someone tell Geddy! Also on the show will Ross Atkins, which, assuming he actually does something by then, should be quite interesting as well.