DUNEDIN, Fla. – Shout out to Ross Atkins, who in his first media availability for the reason that finish of the lockout cleverly provided simply sufficient ambiguity in his solutions to bolster no matter you need to imagine is coming subsequent for the Toronto Blue Jays.
Satisfied they’re laying the groundwork to make a play for Freddie Freeman? Properly, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., “is open to enjoying some third base.”
Imagine they’ve one more nine-figure mega-contract in them after already handing out two this winter to Jose Berrios and Kevin Gausman? “We must be considerate about how we’re desirous about in the present day and tomorrow, however we now have the total help to (make a major add) from our management.”
Sure they should subtract from the roster to slot in any new offensive additions? “We clearly have some good gamers and a few depth in some areas that groups establish they usually’re assertive in desirous about methods to enhance their staff. We’re not trying to try this.”
Listened to in totality, it was a masterclass in conserving everybody guessing.
To be honest, Atkins wasn’t going to come back out and boldly lay out all of his plans. The very best a membership can do is recommend the what, not the who, and the final supervisor no less than did that in defining what stays on his docket.
“We really feel like we’re in an excellent place, however we need to make the staff higher,” Atkins stated after a Tuesday information convention introducing left-hander Yusei Kikuchi. “The obvious method to try this is in our infield and complementing it by some means. We’ll nonetheless take into consideration run prevention on the pitching facet, if there is a method to try this in our bullpen. If there is a method so as to add offence, we’re open to that too, whether or not that be within the type of an every-day place participant or not. There are a number of completely different ways in which we are able to go and that is a superb place to be in.”
No surprises there and all of it is sensible based mostly on how they’re at present constructed. Nonetheless, when you’re all in on Carlos Baerga and the Freeman fireplace graphics on his Instagram posts, you possibly can most likely speak your self into placing two and two collectively there to make 4.
That’s harmful, as a result of the equation is much extra sophisticated than that for the Blue Jays on Freeman.
That is simply hypothesis right here, however one option to learn the scenario is that they, like many groups, had been satisfied the star first baseman was going again to Atlanta however checked in on him all low season as a matter in fact, as they do with all free brokers.
As soon as Alex Anthopoulos pulled off the Matt Olson blockbuster, nevertheless, a path to Freeman all of the sudden grew to become an precise chance. That left the Blue Jays, and all the opposite golf equipment, with a call to make on how aggressively to leap in.
Whereas he’s excellent from an offensive-profile perspective, Freeman is a very troublesome match each positionally – chances are you’ll recall the Blue Jays have an MVP-finalist first baseman in Guerrero – and financially, particularly as a result of he’s believed to nonetheless be looking for a long-term deal.
Freeman’s curiosity within the Blue Jays is regarded as real. His late mom Rosemary was born in Toronto whereas his father, Fred, was born in Windsor, Ont., they married in Oshawa, Ont., earlier than settling in California and he represented Canada on the 2017 World Baseball Basic to honour his mother, absolutely investing within the expertise.
Nonetheless, making an unanticipated add of this magnitude isn’t troublesome.
Guerrero is one other main issue and although he got here up via the farm system and debuted within the majors as a 3rd baseman, there’s a faculty of thought that they need to go away effectively sufficient alone with him.
Atkins, reluctant to chop off potentialities in public, famous that “we prefer to preserve issues open and like to remain as open-minded as doable about these completely different eventualities.”
Then he added, “Vladdy is in an unbelievable place mentally. He’s open to enjoying some third base. How a lot can be one thing we proceed to work via with him and wish to have extra info based mostly on what our staff appears like earlier than we make something close to concrete.”
Equally telling was Atkins’ touch upon being “considerate about how we’re desirous about in the present day and tomorrow.” Berrios, Gausman and George Springer have all signed nine-figure offers since January 2020 and the Blue Jays should forged ahead not solely to a possible payroll-crunch in 2023 but in addition the potential for extensions for Guerrero and Bo Bichette down the highway.
At this level, they should be cautious about their wage construction changing into so top-heavy that it cuts them off to different choices.
Therefore, their pursuit of Kyle Scwharber makes way more sense, even when it accentuates their outfield surplus, a roster development situation akin to the catching logjam in addition they have.
Atkins hedged a bit of when requested if additional position-player additions would require subtractions – “it simply relies upon,” he started – however then he went into the we’re not trying to transfer anybody, different groups like our depth spiel.
Notable Tuesday is that through the membership’s exercises, a rival scout spent a variety of time taking video of Alejandro Kirk’s defensive work. It may have been simply routine protection, however Kirk would provide current worth and long-term management as a part of a bundle ought to a staff like Cleveland, say, need to use somebody like Jose Ramirez to reload relatively than rebuild.
Ramirez continues to be the dream state of affairs, troublesome as will probably be to drag off, amid a number of choices in a first-week-of-December enjoying out through the first week of spring due to the lockout.
The Blue Jays can afford to attend issues out after performing quick to land Kikuchi for $36 million over three years, getting one of many final remaining free-agent starters comfortably value a number of years. They almost landed him when he first came visiting in 2019 earlier than he selected Seattle as an alternative, and this time “we additionally had been engaged on alternate options as a result of it’s important to, however we had been extraordinarily targeted on Yusei and wished to verify we had been placing our greatest foot ahead there,” stated Atkins.
Any alternate options would have been on the commerce market, which means the Blue Jays nonetheless have that capital of their arsenal.
So, Atkins might have left a variety of issues open to interpretation, however with a rotation in place and potentialities aplenty, he wasn’t fallacious about his staff being in a superb place.