CARLSBAD, Calif. – The Toronto Blue Jays leave the general managers’ meetings without an immediate cure for what influential agent Scott Boras described as the “Blue Flu,” but with a sense that they’ve started work on enough different tracks to eventually find one.
The annual gathering of clubs and agents wrapped up Thursday with one trade in the books – the Tampa Bay Rays’ acquisition of catcher Mike Zunino in a five-player swap with the Seattle Mariners, who get speedy outfielder Mallex Smith – and a lot of information for front offices to download.
Blue Jays GM Ross Atkins said he and his crew had accomplished all they had hoped to this week at the Omni La Costa Resort and Spa, and said, “the nature of this business is that we often times have several balls in the air that could get momentum at any moment on the trade and free agency front.”
“We could also have those balls remain in the air for the next month and a half, or two,” Atkins continued. “Clarity is great, love having clarity in certain areas, we feel that we have opportunities to make our team better and the organization better and we’ve made progress there.”
The priority for the Blue Jays is to add pitching both to their rotation and bullpen, even as speculation continues about the futures of Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez. Rival executives are skeptical that either will be dealt because of how big a hit they would take in the return selling low, but that hasn’t kept either from being inquired about.
The likelihood is that Atkins will look to turn some of his middle-infield surplus into pitching, which will also create more structure around who’s going to play where in 2019.
Between Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Brandon Drury, Devon Travis, Aledmys Diaz, Richard Urena and Yangervis Solarte (a clear non-tender candidate), there’s a logjam and that’s before Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (who’ll be up once the club has pushed back his free agency by a year), Bo Bichette and Cavan Biggio are factored into the mix.
And then there’s the Troy Tulowitzki wild card.
The Blue Jays also have four catchers on the 40-man roster in Russell Martin, Luke Maile, Danny Jansen and Reese McGuire, and Martin, if the $20 million he’s owed is paid down enough, could be in play given the number of contending clubs that need a backstop.
In combination with outfield depth, the Blue Jays will have to strike a balance between prioritizing playing time for the most deserving players while trading those who may fetch them a reasonable return.
“That would be ideal but it’s just acquisition cost, what’s the return on that trade. We’re in a good position in that we don’t have to make any trades and we can field a major-league team that we feel is young and exciting,” said Atkins. “We do need to add pitching on some level, in some way, so I can see a scenario where we go through the off-season and make …read more