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News and Notes: Alek Manoah debuting a cutter, Ricky Tiedemann starts on Saturday, and more!

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Photo credit:Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
Brennan Delaney
1 month ago
It’s a new day, which means it’s time for a new News and Notes.
We’re just two days away from the first game of Spring Training, which begs the question, who’ll start the game on Saturday? There have also been a few signings which make the Isiah Kiner-Falefa signing questionable, and there’s even more Alek Manoah news!
Let’s dig in.

Cavan Biggio taking batting practice

It was reported earlier that Cavan Biggio was the only Blue Jay player dealing with any sort of ailment. Well, it appears the concern is over as he was taking batting practice on Thursday, as reported by MLB.com’s Keegan Matheson.
Biggio was one of the best Blue Jays’ hitters in the second half of the 2023 season, slashing. 272/.404/.361 with two homers in 183 plate appearances, along with a 15.8 BB% and a 21.9 K% for a 124 wRC+. It’s to be seen what his role will be, but it wouldn’t be surprising if he platoons with Davis Schneider at second base, or once again plays a super utility role on the team.

Ricky Tiedemann starts on Saturday

It appears that the future Blue Jays ace will get the ball to open the Blue Jays season. Well, Toronto’s Spring Training, as 21-year-old left-handed pitcher Ricky Tiedemann will start on Saturday against the Philadelphia Phillies.
Last season, Tiedemann had a 3.83 ERA and a 1.98 FIP in 47 innings pitched between Single-A, Double-A, and Triple-A. His 43.7 K% was the second-highest in the organization with 20 or more innings pitched, but he did struggle with walks as he had a 12.2 BB%.
Still, he’s a left-handed pitcher that touches a tick under 100 mph with the heater while featuring two plus secondary pitches. Health and command are big determining factors in how far he goes, but Tiedemann certainly has ace potential.
Bowden Francis will get the ball against the New York Yankees on Sunday… speaking of which.

Juan Soto will make his Spring Training debut against the Jays

The Blue Jays may not have made a big addition to their roster this off-season, but the Yankees sure did. They traded a handful of pitching prospects, including Drew Thorpe, to the San Diego Padres for rental Juan Soto. Well, he’ll play in his first game against the Blue Jays.
Last season, the 25-year-old outfielder slashed .275/.410/.519 with 35 home runs in 708 plate appearances for a 155 wRC+, one of the best seasons of his young career. The good news is, that he may only be a Yankee for one season as the 2024 season will be his final year of arbitration. Perhaps, the Jays will attempt to sign him next off-season.

Alek Manoah developing a cutter

It’s no secret that Alek Manoah struggled in 2023, posting a 5.87 ERA and a 6.01 FIP in 87.1 innings pitched after finishing third in American League Cy Young voting in 2022. Coming into the 2024 season, he has to find a way to get back to where he was, and one way may be by adding a new pitch – the cutter.
A cutter is essentially a fastball that “cuts” late and can be used against left-handed batters for Manoah. Out of his four pitches, the changeup was the weakest link, but it was also the pitch to be used against lefties.
Moreover, there’s been some encouraging signs with his velocity, as TSN’s Scott Mitchell reports Manoah has been around 92-93 mph with the fastball. Manoah’s frame is already pretty built out, meaning there isn’t much in the way of projection, but hitting your average from the past three seasons before Spring Training games start is a good sign.

Tim Anderson signs with the Marlins

The Blue Jays now can’t corner the market on mediocre infielders, as Tim Anderson has signed a one-year, $5 million deal with the Miami Marlins, reports The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal.
Anderson is a great bounce back candidate, as he slashed .318/.347/.474 with 51 home runs in 1641 plate appearances from 2019-2022. Of course, he struggled in 2023, slashing just .245/.286/.296 with a single home run in 524 plate appearances, but Anderson has proven to be a great hitter in years’ past.
For what it’s worth, it appears that the Jays had little interest in Anderson, according to TSN’s Mitchell.
Maybe if he plays well in Detroit, the Blue Jays could trade for him at the trade deadline.

Gio Urshela signs with the Tigers

Former Blue Jay Gio Urshela has signed with the Detroit Tigers for a one-year, $1.5 million deal, reports Jeff Passan.
Last season with the Los Angeles Angels, Urshela slashed .299/.329/.374 with two homers in 228 plate appearances for his lowest wRC+ of 92 since he was a Blue Jay. Urshela’s best season so far came in 2019 with the New York Yankees, one season after being a Blue Jay. That season, he slashed .314/.355/.534 with 21 homers in 476 plate appearances, along with a 132 wRC+ and a 2.8 fWAR.
Earlier in the off-season, Isiah Kiner-Falefa signed a two-year, $15 million deal to produce less than Urshela. In fact, if you combine Urshela’s, Anderson’s, and Ahmed Rosario’s deals together, they barely make more than Kiner-Falefa does while producing more offence. 
No idea what the Jays were doing when they signed Kiner-Falefa, but hopefully he proves us all wrong.
The first Spring Training game is just two days away. I can’t wait!

As always, you can follow me on Twitter, Instagram, and Threads @Brennan_L_D.

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