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14 links to the Blue Jays from this year’s World Series

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TORONTO — As the Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers battle from coast to coast for a ring, some of the past connections to the Toronto Blue Jays organization are obvious.

David Price dazzling for two straight October starts is sure to be noticed by Blue Jays fans across this country, but a handful of Toronto links in this World Series aren’t as apparent.

Digging through the 40-man rosters and coaching staffs, here are 14 Blue Jays World Series connections, direct or otherwise.

1. David Price

In the midst of exorcising his postseason demons with another gem for the Red Sox in Game 2 on Wednesday night, the lefty wasn’t exactly as stingy for the Jays, allowing a total of 16 earned runs over three starts and one relief appearance in the 2015 postseason.

2. Steve Pearce

Pearce was productive when he was on the field for the Jays over the past two seasons, hitting 17 home runs and posting a .779 OPS in 118 games.

Shipped to the Red Sox in June in exchange for infield prospect Santiago Espinal, Pearce has been quite the find for Boston, slashing .279/.394/.507 with seven homers in 50 regular-season games and coming up with a number of key hits – and a key stretch defensively at first base – in the postseason.

3. Mookie Betts

Betts’ connection to the Jays resides in the front office with former Red Sox GM Ben Cherington, now vice-president of baseball operations in Toronto.

Cherington was part of the front office that drafted Betts in the fifth round of the 2011 MLB Draft, but perhaps his most impressive feat during his time as GM (2011-15) was resisting the urge to trade Betts as a prospect. 

In Nick Cafardo’s column in the Boston Globe this summer while the Red Sox were in Toronto, Cherington said then-Milwaukee Brewers GM Doug Melvin tried to pry Betts away on numerous occasions, while former Philadelphia Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. tried to make Betts the centrepiece of a potential Cole Hamels deal.

4. J.D. Martinez

Last November as the free agent non-frenzy was just getting underway, a rumour was floated that the Blue Jays could be a dark horse in the Martinez sweepstakes. 

There was no truth to the report and Martinez ended up signing a five-year deal worth $110 million with the Red Sox, but he had to wait until Feb. 26.

5. Yasmani Grandal

The Jays, led by GM Alex Anthopoulos and director of amateur scouting Andrew Tinnish in the draft room, selected right-handed pitcher Deck McGuire out of Georgia Tech University with the 11th- overall pick of the 2010 MLB Draft.

Grandal, a Miami Hurricanes product, was plucked by the Cincinnati Reds with the very next pick. 

Since donning Los Angeles Dodgers colours, the veteran catcher has been worth at least 2.3 fWAR per season over the past four years, including 3.6 WAR in 2018 alone.

Embedded Image6. Chris Sale

As if Grandal wasn’t tough enough to swallow, the Chicago White Sox took this wiry lefty with the 13th pick. Whoops. Not much more needs to be said about the Red Sox perennial Cy Young candidate.

7. Drew Pomeranz

Surprisingly added to the World Series roster after a pitching to a 6.08 ERA in 74 innings during the regular season and being left off the postseason roster entirely until now, Pomeranz was the fifth- overall pick in the 2010 MLB Draft, a selection made by the Cleveland Indians and GM Mark Shapiro, farm director Ross Atkins and scouting director Brad Grant.

Pomeranz was dealt to the Colorado Rockies in the Ubaldo Jimenez trade in 2011 and never wore a Cleveland uniform.

8. Max Muncy

The same trio of decision makers were responsible for drafting Muncy out of the Texas high school ranks in the 41st round in 2009, but he decided to head to Baylor and was selected in the fifth round by the Oakland A’s in the 2012 draft.

Muncy took a winding road to the bigs, but pumped 35 home runs this season as one of the feel-good stories of the year.

9. John Axford

Traded to the Dodgers at the deadline, the 35-year-old right-hander returned late in the regular season from a fractured fibula he suffered when hit by a comebacker in mid-August, but he hasn’t made the postseason roster.

The Port Dover, Ont., native posted a 4.41 ERA during his 51 innings and four months playing for his hometown team.

10. Tom Koehler

Acquired from the Miami Marlins in 2017 to help patch up a depleted pitching staff, Koehler ran up a 2.65 ERA in 15 appearances before being non-tendered last December.

After signing a one-year deal for $2 million with the Dodgers, Koehler ended up undergoing season-ending shoulder surgery in July and has been on the 60-day DL ever since.

11. Pat Venditte

The ambidextrous one hasn’t pitched this postseason after throwing 14 regular-season innings for the Dodgers.

The 33-year-old turned in 8.2 unremarkable innings for the Jays in 2016.

12. Chris Woodward

He’s been talked about as a potential manager down the road, but right now the former Jays middle infielder is the Dodgers’ third base coach.

Drafted in the 54th round by the Jays in 1994, Woodward, known more for the leather, hit .245 over 1,188 plate appearances in Toronto.

13. Turner Ward

Now in his third season as Dodgers hitting coach, the former outfielder arrived in Toronto on June 27, 1991, alongside knuckleballer Tom Candiotti in a swap with the Cleveland Indians.

Heading the other way were Montreal native Denis Boucher, and outfielders Mark Whiten and Glenallen Hill.

Ward hit just .220 with the Jays and was lost on waivers to the Milwaukee Brewers in November 1993.

14. Tim Hyers

Another hitting coach, another connection to the Jays.

In this case, the Red Sox first-year hitting coach — he spent the past two years working with Ward as assistant hitting coach in Hollywood — was drafted by the Jays in in the second round of the 1990 draft, playing four years in the organization up to Double-A.

Hyers, a first baseman and outfielder, eventually got into 133 major-league games with the San Diego Padres, Detroit Tigers and Florida Marlins

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