It’s not clear what Major League Baseball’s free agent market will look like this offseason. There appears to be at least one team, however, gearing up to spend.
Via Tim Kelly of Radio.com, MLB Network’s Jon Heyman told Radio.com’s “Big Time Baseball” that the Toronto Blue Jays are interested in both George Springer and Jackie Bradley Jr. as free agents.
Neither player would come cheap. That’s particularly true of Springer, who is only 31 and is a career .270 hitter with power. He’s likely to command a long-term deal worth significant cash, especially since there’s talk about him being ready to move on from Houston.
The Blue Jays are coming off a season that saw their young team reach the AL Wild Card series. They’ll expect to be even better next year, and it sounds like they’re willing to add veterans to accelerate that process.
It’s not clear if the Toronto Blue Jays will be able to return to their home city in 2021. Major League Baseball is prepared to do whatever it takes to bring that about.
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said he’s hopeful of convincing the Canadian government that it will be safe for the Blue Jays to play games in Toronto even if restrictions continue into 2021.
“The one thing I can say is that we will do everything humanly possible to convince the government that the Blue Jays should play in Toronto next year,” Manfred told Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.
It’s a question that likely won’t be answered for a while. It largely depends on where the pandemic stands early next year. The Canadian government cited travel from high-risk areas as the major factor behind keeping the team from playing in Toronto in 2020. That will likely have to change before the Blue Jays are allowed to play home games. Either that, or both the government and the league will have to explore creative options to make things work.
Robbie Ray has had a down season after entering the year with high expectations, but the Toronto Blue Jays are hoping he can regain his old form.
The Blue Jays acquired Ray on Monday in a trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Rob Longley of the Toronto Sun was the first to report the news.
Ray generated a lot of buzz before the season and was supposedly dominating hitters in camp. He’s eligible for free agency this winter, and the Diamondbacks were expecting big things from him in a contract year. The results have not been there, however, as Ray has gone 1-4 with a 7.84 ERA in seven starts.
In his lone All-Star season in 2017, Ray went 15-5 with a 2.89 ERA in 28 starts. The left-hander struck out an impressive 218 batters that season and the year before.
The Blue Jays are 18-14 and fighting for a playoff spot in the shortened season. They are banking on a change of scenery being beneficial for Ray.
The Philadelphia Phillies announced on Thursday that two staffers have tested positive for the coronavirus, and their weekend series has been postponed as a result.
The Phillies were scheduled to play the Blue Jays in a four-game series from Thursday-Sunday, but Toronto manager Charlie Montoyo told reporters those games have been postponed. The Blue Jays are still in Washington, D.C. following their series against the Nationals, and they’re trying to figure out their next steps.
No Phillies players had tested positive for COVID-19 as of Thursday, but one of the staffers who tested positive works in the clubhouse at Citizens Bank Park. The team announced that all baseball activities at the park have been canceled until further notice.
In addition to having two employees test positive for the coronavirus, the Phillies were also the last team to face the Marlins, who had several players and staff members test positive. Miami’s games have also been postponed until further notice.
Major League Baseball made some updates to its coronavirus policy this week, including requiring teams to have a coronavirus compliance officer travel with them. The MLBPA is also seeking some significant rule changes to help keep players safe.
The Toronto Blue Jays know where they’ll ultimately be playing their home games in 2020, but it’ll be a little while before they can actually play there.
According to Hazel Mae of Sportsnet, the Blue Jays will play their first two home series of 2020 on the road in Washington and Philadelphia against the Nationals and Phillies, respectively. Sahlen Field in Buffalo needs more time to sufficiently upgrade the infrastructure for MLB games, and the Blue Jays are expected to make their debut there on Aug. 11 against the Miami Marlins.
Buffalo was not the team’s first choice after the Jays were barred from playing in Toronto, but it quickly became the only feasible option. Adding better lighting is a main priority of the infrastructure upgrades, and the stadium also needs MLB-ready replay on site.
Having to play the first two “home” series on the road shouldn’t be a massive deal, as travel is more limited this season. It does mean that the team will play nearly three full weeks of games before getting the chance to play in their temporary home ballpark, though.
The Toronto Blue Jays finally have a home for 2020.
On Friday, the Blue Jays announced that they will play the majority of their “home” games this season at Sahen Field in Buffalo, which is the home of the team’s Triple-A affiliate Buffalo Bisons.
The Blue Jays explored a number of options after the Canadian government denied them permission to play in the Rogers Centre in Toronto due to the coronavirus pandemic. Their players were pushing to play in an MLB-level park, but a plan to host games at PNC Park in Pittsburgh fell apart this week after the local government rejected the proposal.
Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Blue Jays will first have to sort out some lighting issues in Buffalo.
Obviously, the situation is not ideal for Blue Jays players. They’ll have to play half the season in a park that lacks MLB-level facilities, but fortunately that only amounts to 30 games in a shortened season.
The state of Pennsylvania announced Wednesday that the Toronto Blue Jays will not be allowed to play home games at Pittsburgh’s PNC Park, citing health risks.
The Pirates and Blue Jays, as well as MLB, were in agreement on a plan that would let the two teams share the park for the 2020 season. The plan had to be approved by the state, however, and it has declined to do so.
Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine cited the added risks of travelers coming into the region as the reasoning behind rejecting the plan.
This means it’s back to the drawing board for the Blue Jays, who have a week before their home opener to figure out where they’ll be playing it. Baltimore has been named as one option, as has simply playing home games at the visiting team’s stadium instead of a stand-in for their own.
The Toronto Blue Jays’ home stadium issues may not be completely sorted after all.
Reports emerged Wednesday that the Blue Jays have worked out an agreement to play home games at Pittsburgh’s PNC Park for the 2020 season. That will require the approval of the state of Pennsylvania, however, which the organization does not actually have yet.
As first reported by Buster Olney of ESPN, the team is still looking at possible alternatives, including simply using the stadium of each team they play while being designated as the home team when the schedule dictates.
Furthermore, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic characterized the Blue Jays’ PNC Park plan as “falling apart.” ESPN’s Jeff Passan explained that the government of Pennsylvania is concerned about teams from outside the state traveling in from hot spots. Baltimore remains an option for the Blue Jays as a result.
The permanent road show is probably not an ideal scenario for Blue Jays players, who would be constantly traveling and wouldn’t officially have a home base. The players have been very specific with their requests, however, and definitely want an MLB stadium for 2020.
The Blue Jays had been eyeing Buffalo’s minor league stadium, and the city was interested in having them. That no longer seems like a realistic possibility at this point.
It appears the Toronto Blue Jays may actually succeed in finding an MLB stadium to play most of the team’s home games in.
According to Jon Heyman of MLB Network, Pittsburgh’s PNC Park is the “current leader” to host at least some of Toronto’s home games in 2020. Both the Pirates and Major League Baseball are supportive of the idea if scheduling issues can be squared away.
According to Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet, Baltimore’s Camden Yards has also emerged as a possibility. The Blue Jays and Orioles have no overlapping home dates in the entire month of September, while nearby Nationals Park could conceivably be used as an alternate site when there are schedule clashes in July and August.
TSN’s Scott Mitchell reported that Blue Jays officials are in Buffalo to assess the viability of Sahlen Field as an alternate home.
Buffalo had looked like the frontrunner, but the logistical issues that the minor league stadium creates are troublesome for the organization. In addition, playing there for the entire season would go against the wishes of Toronto’s players.
The Blue Jays open their home schedule on July 29. It does appear that they’re making pretty rapid progress on finding somewhere to play before then.
The Toronto Blue Jays are looking for a home stadium to play their games for the 2020 season, and they reportedly are considering Pittsburgh as an option.
The Jays on Saturday learned that the Canadian government would not give them approval to play home games in Toronto. The Canadian government did not approve the Jays’ plan because they are trying to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
The Jays are now left searching for a place to host them for the shortened season. They are said to be considering their minor league affiliates in Buffalo, N.Y. and Dunedin, Fla., but each come with concerns. In Buffalo, the stadium would need to be brought up to MLB standards for lighting and replay, while Dunedin has the concern of COVID-19 cases in Florida.
On Sunday night, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Jason Mackey said the Jays were looking at PNC Park as an option. PNC Park is the home of the Pirates.
Part of the reason for this push has to do with the players’ desire to play in an MLB stadium. Another city has also been mentioned, but it would not fit the players’ reported desire.