Blue Jays Notebook: Ross Atkins says Alek Manoah ‘has strong leg up’ to be in Jays rotation next year; Whit Merrifield ‘might be a priority’ for Red Sox
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By Zach Laing21 days ago
The twisting and turning saga that has been Alek Manoah’s last year might play out just fine after all.
More than enough concern was raised after his awful start to the 2023 season, his assignment to the Florida Complex, and subsequent return and blow-up that saw him away from the team down the stretch of the season.
But on Tuesday, Jays GM Ross Atkins seemed to push that aside saying the 2022 All-Star might have a spot in the rotation next year already locked up.
“I do feel like he has earned, already, the right to have a strong leg up,” Atkins said, via MLB.com’s Ian Browne. “I’m so excited about Alek.
“I feel so good about him coming into the year, given his body of work, the experiences that he’s had, his motivation and where he is.”
Manoah’s pitching career prior to last season’s blow up was nothing short of excellent, as The Big Man never faced much in the way of adversity. In fact, his worst ERA in a single season came when he was 20-years-old at the NCAA’s West Virginia, where he posted a 4.00 ERA and 1.500 WHIP.
So when things got so off the rails this year, it was clearly a shock to the system of all those involved. The hope, as Atkins seems to allude to, is that Manoah can come back and provide strong innings once again for the Toronto Blue Jays.
Whit to the Sox?
Whit Merrifield might just have a home in the American League East after all.
We know it won’t be with the Blue Jays, given both the player and club declined a mutual option to retain his services for the 2024 season. But the Boston Red Sox appear ready to pony up for the second baseman.
According to The Athletic’s Jen McCaffrey, so much so that Merrifield “might be a priority for the Red Sox.”
As she noted Tuesday, the infielder “is among the few strong defensive options at second base on the free-agent market,” with a contract projected for two-years and $19-million.
The 34-year-old spent a year and a half in Toronto after they acquired him at the 2022 deadline for Max Castillo and Samad Taylor. Across 189 games and 668 at-bats, Merrifield slashed .319/.394/.712, while being an adequate defensive player.
Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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