News and Notes: Teoscar Hernández returns to Toronto, Matt Chapman talks about Oakland A’s relocation, and more
Photo credit:Stephen Brashear-USA TODAY Sports
By Cam Lewis4 months ago
This weekend’s series in Toronto between the Blue Jays and Seattle Mariners will be a rematch of last fall’s American League Wild-Card Series, but with some different looks on both sides.
Luis Castillo pitched a gem for the Mariners in Game 1 and then Seattle pulled off a ridiculous comeback after going down 8-1 in Game 2 to sweep the Blue Jays. Not long after, the two teams came together on a major trade in the 0ff-season, as Teoscar Hernández was dealt to Seattle for Erik Swanson and pitching prospect Adam Macko.
For Toronto, moving on from Hernández was part of a larger puzzle, which involved getting better defensively and making their lineup more left-handed, a goal that was completed by adding Kevin Kiermaier and Daulton Varsho later on. For Seattle, Teoscar was a player they had their eye on for quite some time and they wanted to make their lineup more dangerous.
“It’s funny. Most of the work we did on the Teoscar trade actually happened in spring training before the (2022) season began. We tried so hard to pick him up before the season started and talked through a lot of players,” Mariners President of Baseball Operations Jerry Dipoto told The Athletic. “It did not hurt that what was left on our optic lens [from Game 2] was him hitting rockets.
The Mariners are off to a sluggish start this season at 11-14, and a big part of that has been their below-average offence. Teoscar hasn’t quite rounded into form yet, as he’s struggled to a .224/.260/.439 line with an ugly 31-to-2 strikeout-to-walk ratio, but the Mariners have gotten a taste of the game-changing power that he brings to the lineup.
The new-look Blue Jays, meanwhile, are cruising along with a 16-9 record. They might miss Hernández’s big bat in the middle of what now appears to be a more shallow lineup than in recent years, but they certainly don’t miss the errors on the basepaths and the spotty defence in the outfield. They’re also getting everything they asked for out of Swanson, who’s struck out 14 batters and has allowed just two earned runs over 11 2/3 innings.
As time goes along, this has the makings of a deal that works out nicely for both of the teams involved. Things are looking better for the Blue Jays right now, but Teoscar will eventually catch fire and help the Mariners climb up the standings.
Matt Chapman talks about the Oakland A’s potentially moving to Vegas…
Nothing is official just yet, but it appears inevitable that the Oakland A’s are going to pack up shop and move to Las Vegas. There’s only one season left after this one on the team’s lease at Oakland Coliseum and the team has signed a binding process to purchase 49 acres of land in Vegas that they plan to use to build a new stadium.
Former Athletic Matt Chapman spoke with Shi Davidi of Sportsnet about the whole relocation situation, saying that he feels sorry for the loyal A’s fans out there but hopes for the sake of the players that this results in the organization taking winning more seriously.
“If they’re leaving and going to Vegas, I’m happy for the players. They get a new stadium, they deserve it. I’m hoping that means they’ll be able to start signing guys long-term and not have to do the same kind of business structure they do now, where they just kind of turn over [the roster as it gets expensive]. But that being said, I feel bad for the loyal A’s fans in Oakland. They lost the Raiders. They lost the Warriors to San Francisco. There are a lot of good Oakland fans that have been loyal through the years, through all the stuff they have to deal with. I feel bad for them.”
The A’s drafted Chapman in the first round of the 2014 draft and he quickly became the third-baseman of the future as Oakland traded Josh Donaldson to the Blue Jays a few months later. Chapman made his debut in 2017 and quickly established himself with seasons in 2018 and 2019 that resulted in him finishing seventh and sixth respectively in MVP voting.
Oakland dropped the Wild Card Game in both 2018 and 2019 and then lost in the American League Division Series in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season and then started to blow things up. Chapman said that the A’s offered him a long-term contract before the 2020 season, but he turned it down because he didn’t want to take a discount to stay in Oakland and because he was worried everyone else would leave.
“First off, I wasn’t going to take a discount to stay in Oakland, so I don’t think they were going to pay me my full value. But also, even more importantly than that, I don’t think they were going to sign Marcus Semien or Matt Olson or any of the players that we had there. So, that kind of made it tough knowing that, ‘What if I sign this deal and nobody that I’m playing with and signed up to play with is here?’ I don’t know if they would have given me a no-trade clause, they could have traded me, so I felt like I was giving them more than I was going to get in return.”
Chapman, of course, wound up getting traded to the Blue Jays, just like Donaldson a few years before him. He was also right about Semien, who joined the Blue Jays in free agency, and Olson, who was traded a couple of years ago to the Atlanta Braves. Ramón Laureano is the only player left on the A’s that was on their most recent playoff roster three years ago.
Chapman also noted that there’s a significant difference between playing for the A’s compared to what he’s experienced thus far with the Blue Jays.
“From an ownership standpoint, you just look at this stadium, look at the facilities we have, the weight rooms, the batting cages, the money they do spend on the field. It’s just a good feeling knowing that you are supported by the organization and they have the same goals as you. And I feel like, in Oakland, the owners did not have the same goals as the players.”
It’ll be interesting to see in the off-season how much the team is willing to commit to the 30-year-old to stick around. A couple of years ago, Marcus Semien came to Toronto and had one of the best seasons in Blue Jays history and the team opted not to offer more than the seven-year, $175 million contract he ultimately signed with the Texas Rangers.
First-round pick from 2022 draft set to make debut…
A quick note about the Blue Jays farm system… Kiley McDaniel of ESPN reported that Brandon Barriera, the team’s first-round pick from the 2022 draft, is set to make his professional debut for the Low-A Dunedin Blue Jays next week…
Barriera is a hard-throwing left-hander who the Blue Jays selected out of high school last summer and signed to an over-slot signing bonus of $3,597,500. He was ranked No. 3 on our pre-season prospect rankings.
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