Blue Jays GM Ross Atkins chatted with reporters yesterday about his club’s place in the offseason transactional carousel, as Kaitlyn McGrath of The Athletic (subscription link) was among those to cover.
Atkins emphasized that the organization has been “aggressive” on the free agent market, especially with regard to starting pitching. While there isn’t a deal to show for it just yet, there’s obviously ample time remaining and a slew of appealing options still on the market.
What of the top options available? “There’s not a free agent that we haven’t touched base with,” he said. It’s tough to see the Toronto organization as a serious player for any of this winter’s super-premium free agents, but Atkins certainly suggested that the front office has at least seen cause to check in on all the possibilities. Whether or not it’ll happen is far from clear — the guess here is it won’t — -but Atkins says the Blue Jays have the capacity to go into nine-figure territory for the right player.
It’s still anyone’s guess which arms the Jays will come away with. But Atkins did strongly suggest the team is likelier to make significant moves via free agency than trade. He expressed a disinclination to part with youthful “players that we’re really excited about” in order to acquire a compelling new MLB hurler.
One possibility: Hyun-Jin Ryu. We haven’t heard much about where the market is headed for the standout southpaw, but Jon Heyman of MLB Network tweets that the Jays are “in” on him. Just how to interpret that isn’t clear, particularly in light of the Atkins declaration that the team has cast an exceedingly wide net, but it sounds as if there’s at least some real interest on the part of the Toronto organization.
There’s still ample opportunity left for the Jays on the market. And the team is offering notable opportunity for free agents — a selling point in and of itself for certain hurlers. Atkins said that the Jays don’t feel fully committed to any starters other than Chase Anderson for 2020. That’s not to say that four more additions will be forthcoming, but it speaks to the team’s internal uncertainty and willingness to compete jobs.