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Blue Jays GM Ross Atkins brags about ‘years of control’ gained through trades

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The Blue Jays were among the more active teams in the lead-up to Wednesday’s 4 PM ET trade deadline. The club dealt infielder Eric Sogard, starters Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez, and relievers Joe Biagini and Daniel Hudson. In exchange for those players, the Jays acquired two players to be named later, pitcher Kyle Johnson, Anthony Kay, Simeon Woods-Richardson, and Derek Fisher.

With a 42-67 record, it’s no surprise that the Jays decided to pawn off their players and recoup as much value as possible. For Jays fans, though, they watched some of their favorite players — particularly Stroman — leave for greener pastures. The hope is that some of these new players will eventually grow into new fan favorites.

Oddly, that’s not how GM Ross Atkins characterized the Jays’ moves in a conference call. Per Scott Stinson of the National Post, Atkins bragged that the Jays “turned 14 years of control into 42 years of control.”

Atkins is no stranger to these kinds of quotes. At Pitch Talks in February 2018, Atkins said of free agency, “You’re talking about aging players and the trend of overpaying a player’s aging curves has come to an end across baseball.” Earlier this year, in order to justify keeping Vladimir Guerrero Jr. in the minor leagues to begin the season so as to gain another year of contractual control of him, Atkins said, “I just don’t see [Guerrero] as a major league player.” Guerrero, who should have been promoted to the majors in 2018, has a .767 OPS and 11 home runs in 78 games since his call-up in late April.

Can you feel the excitement in Toronto? Fans will flock to the Rogers Centre, wearing their fresh home white jerseys with “Contractual Control” written on the back. Concession stands will offer memorabilia cups that describe how many years from now players like Kay and Woods-Richardson will reach free agency. Rather than include actual players in TV ad spots, an accountant will simply detail how much money the Jays will save because so many of their players are not yet eligible for arbitration.

Zack Wheeler will miss at least two starts when his wife gives birth

Zack Wheeler miss starts
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Per The Athletic’s Matt Gelb, Phillies starter Zack Wheeler will miss at least two starts when his wife goes into labor and gives birth to their first child, expected to be later this month. Wheeler, in fact, is not sure if he will return to play at all once their child is born.

Wheeler said, “We just have to see how things are here at the field and at the stadium. I’m happy with what I see so far. But things could change, especially once our baby’s born. I always think about what’s going on around me. Is it safe? Is it OK? Literally every single day. I have to just ask myself that. I’m going to continue to keep asking myself that every day.”

Wheeler, 30, inked a five-year, $118 million contract with the Phillies in December. He is slated for the No. 2 spot in the rotation behind Aaron Nola. Last season, with the Mets, Wheeler posted a 3.96 ERA with 195 strikeouts and 50 walks over 195 1/3 innings.

The No. 5 spot in the Phillies’ rotation is currently up for grabs between Nick Pivetta, Vince Velasquez, Ranger Suárez, and prospect Spencer Howard. One of the remaining three could fill in for Wheeler when he needs time off, temporarily or otherwise.