Blue Jays GM Ross Atkins joined Ben Nicholson-Smith and Arden Zwelling on Sportsnet’s At the Letters podcast. There’s lots to listen to — including the Sportsnet team’s discussion of other subjects — but we’ll look at a few key takeaways here:
- The Jays are still committed to “putting a winning product on the field,” says Atkins, and that’ll be the driving force in the team’s decisions. (Indeed, he says he does not really anticipate a need for a full-blown rebuild in Toronto, though he would not rule out the possibility at times of requiring a “soft reset.”) Though there haven’t been any significant moves yet, that’s true of the entire remainder of the league as well. Atkins says he thinks the hold-up is likely at the top of the market but also results from a more general trend toward “more patience” in transactional decisionmaking. That could be a result of greater understanding between teams as to how they value players, he suggests, while noting there may also be a cyclical element to it. The tendency toward slow-developing action, after all, may itself create opportunities, Atkins notes.
- Toronto’s top priority remains “protect[ing] our middle infield,” says Atkins, who acknowledges the organization cannot simply rely upon Devon Travis and Troy Tulowitzki to handle regular duties. The ideal player — who, Atkins acknowledges, doesn’t likely exist — would not only add “depth and versatility” up the middle but would be a left-handed hitter that can also play in the outfield. More likely, he says, achieving all of these goals will involve multiple players. Atkins suggests a major outfield addition isn’t likely, explaining that he believes there’s “good depth” on hand but expressing a desire to find a way to “complement” the existing players “a little bit better.”
- Atkins also expanded a bit on his previously stated intentions to seek some pitching depth. The goal, he says, is “complementing our pitching in some significant way.” A back-end starter would be one possibility, per Atkins, but the team could also pursue an “elite reliever or some hybrid of the two.” It seems, then, that there’s some flexibility in the organization’s thinking on the pitching side of the ledger. More than chasing a single pitcher, perhaps, the front office will be looking for a high-value opportunity in this area.