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News and Notes: Nate Pearson added a splitter, MLB could expand soon, and more!

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Photo credit:© Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports
Ryley Delaney
1 month ago
Spring Training is in full swing, which means it is time for some News and Notes!
Over the past few days, there’s been an interesting development with a former top prospects’ pitch mix, the newest Blue Jay has had some interesting quotes, and are the Montréal Expos returning?
Let’s jump in.

Nate Pearson’s splitter

Nate Pearson once ranked as a top 10 prospect in all of baseball, but thanks to a broken ulna bone off a comebacker at the start of 2018, as well as developing mononucleosis to start the 2022 season, with other smaller injuries, his potential has sort of fizzled out. Well, at least as a starter.
Now 27 years old, the flamethrowing right-handed has added a splitter to his repertoire, reports Keegan Matheson. Moreover, he wrote an article on Tuesday morning detailing how he learned it from watching his 2023 teammate, Erik Swanson.
On the surface level, Pearson struggled in 2023 as he posted a 4.85 ERA and a FIP in 42.2 innings pitched, all in relief. Despite averaging nearly 98 mph on his fastball and touching triple-digits often, Pearson only had a 23.6 K% with a 9.9 BB%.
However, there were definitely some positives to his season, as he started the season with a 1.96 ERA and a 3.47 FIP in his first 23 innings pitched, along with a 28.9 K% and a 5.6 BB%. He gave up eight earned runs over his next two outings, or one inning pitched, before getting back on track over his next 9.2 innings pitched, but once again struggled by giving up 10 earned runs in nine appearances.
Pearson has a fastball that sits in the 90’s, paired with a big knuckle curveball and wipeout slider. Adding a splitter that he can throw near the bottom of the plate will give him another strike throwing option, and hopefully help him become the dominant reliever we all know he can be.

Yariel Rodríguez’s story

Recently, Shi Davidi of Sportsnet wrote an article about the Blue Jays biggest free agent signing this season, Yariel Rodríguez.
Not to give up spoilers for the article, as it’s well written and a read that’s well worth it, but the 26-year-old right-handed pitcher took a chance on himself. With no safety net in the United States, he decided to follow his dream, eventually landing with the Jays on a five-year deal worth at least $32 million. The Jays for their part, have had interest in Rodríguez dating back to 2017, with interest picking up when he headed to Japan.
Either way, give that article a read because it’s great and goes far further in depth than I have.

Justin Turner feels wanted

According to Matheson of MLB.com, Justin Turner’s newest teammates told the red-bearded utility player to join the Jays when he was with the Boston Red Sox in 2023. Moreover, one of the newest Blue Jays’ signings also heard Bo Bichette’s interview where he named Turner by name as someone who could help the team.
Another quote Turner that comes from Sportsnet’s Hazel Mae reveals that Turner believes “it’s nice to be wanted”. Which yeah, it’s not just for the bat either, as Turner is seen as a clubhouse leader and could really help out this team moving forward.
Last season with the Red Sox, the 38-year-old slashed .276/.345/.455 with 23 home runs in 626 plate appearances, along with an 8.1 BB% and a 17.6 K% for a 114 wRC+. He’s only two seasons removed from slashing .278/.361/.471 with a career-high 27 home runs in 612 plate appearances, along with a 10 BB% and a 16 K% for a 4.3 fWAR..
The Jays are getting a true professional ball player in Turner, and even though he’s nearly 40, he’s still a good player.

Justin Turner believes this season’s free agency is a black eye

Speaking of Turner, he was speaking to Davidi of Sportsnet where he said it’s a bad look on baseball that so many talented baseball players don’t have work at the start of Spring Training. The full quote (transcribed by The Score) can be found below.
“It’s frustrating, obviously, for the guys in the free-agency class. It’s frustrating for a lot of teams around the league trying to figure out where some of these guys are going to go. It’s kind of a bit of a black eye on baseball.”
Of course, a former Blue Jay is one such player who doesn’t have a team yet. Matt Chapman spent two seasons with the Jays where he slashed .234/.327/.429 with 44 home runs in 1202 plate appearances, while also picking up his fourth American League Gold Glove in 2023. Overall, it was a great trade for the Jays as they gave up Gunnar Hoglund, Kevin Smith, Zach Logue, and Kirby Snead, with the three latter already being on other teams.
When (or if) Chapman signs, the Jays will get a draft selection at the end of the fourth-round. Of course, the signing would have to be before the 2024 draft, and they aren’t entitled to a pick if they are the team that re-signs Chapman.

Expansion galore!

It seems it’s only a matter of time before Major League Baseball expands to 32 teams like the National Hockey League and National Football League have, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan.
Well, relatively, as Passan reports it probably won’t happen until the 2030s after MLB commissioner Rob Mandfred leaves office. There are several issues that need to be ironed out, such as the bankruptcy of Diamond Sports Group, making sure Tampa’s new stadium is built, and whatever the heck is happening with the Oakland A’s.
There are several cities mentioned in the article. Passan lists Nashville and Salt Lake City as front runners, as the latter is also interested in a National Hockey League team. However, Passan also mentions Canadian cities such as Vancouver and Montréal, as well as Charlotte, Portland, San Jose (yes, let’s go back to the Bay Area), Austin, and even Mexico City.
If I had to pick, I’d be biased and say Montréal and Vancouver, but even one more Canadian team would make me happy, preferably Montréal.
Either way, it looks like North American leagues are starting to breach past the 30-team mark which they’ve been stuck on since the turn of the millennium.

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

ARTICLE PRESENTED BY BETANO

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