While Blue Jays reliever Ken Giles looks like an obvious offseason trade candidate, general manager Ross Atkins indicated Tuesday it’s not a sure thing the team will deal him. “We’ve been really focused on acquiring players. We really haven’t engaged on trading players away much at all,” Atkins said in regards to Giles (per Jon Morosi of MLB.com). The flamethrowing Giles may have been out of Toronto by now had he been healthy at the July 31 deadline, but elbow issues helped prevent a trade from coming together. The 29-year-old was utterly brilliant in 2019, though, as he recorded a 1.87 ERA/2.27 FIP with 14.09 K/9, 2.89 BB/9 and 23 saves on 24 tries over 53 innings. Giles is now going into his final season of arbitration, in which he’s projected to make an affordable $8.4MM.
- The Blue Jays have interest in Japanese free agents (or soon-to-be free agents) Yoshitomo Tsutsugo, Shogo Akiyama and Ryosuke Kikuchi, Atkins revealed. Tsutsugo’s a 27-year-old corner outfielder who has smacked 205 home runs in exactly 4,000 plate appearances in Nippon Professional Baseball. The Yokohama DeNA BayStars intend to post him by Dec. 5. Akiyama will try to parlay a strong nine-year run with the Seibu Lions of NPB into a major league contract. The 31-year-old center fielder, who won’t be subjected to the posting system, may have the highest upside of the three when it comes to earning power, as MLBTR projects he’ll rake in a two-year, $6MM guarantee this offseason. Kikuchi, a member of NPB’s Hiroshima Carp, will be posted after eight seasons with the club. The 29-year-old second baseman has not been an offensive standout in Japan, but he has thrived defensively.
- Toronto’s at least considering using outfielders Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and Teoscar Hernandez in the infield next season, per Atkins. Gurriel began his career as a middle infielder, but he struggled enough there that the team shifted him to left field in 2019. That experiment paid off, though it’s reportedly possible Gurriel could be an offseason trade chip for the club. As for Hernandez, although the .230/.306/.472 line he put up in 464 plate appearances this year doesn’t look great, he did go on a second-half tear and finish with 26 home runs. But Hernandez had difficulty in center field, where he accounted for minus-7 Defensive Runs Saved and a minus-7.7 Ultimate Zone Rating. Going forward, he might see time at first and/or second, Atkins suggested. Toronto looks to be in fine shape at the keystone, where Cavan Biggio enjoyed a terrific rookie season, though first is a question mark. Justin Smoak’s a free agent, and Rowdy Tellez didn’t have an especially successful year.