Toronto Blue Jays News

Blue Jays GM Atkins speaks on trade market, bullpen, Hutchison

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Dec 4, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Toronto Blue Jays new general manager Ross Atkins answers questions during an introductory media conference at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 4, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Toronto Blue Jays new general manager Ross Atkins answers questions during an introductory media conference at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports /
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Toronto Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins joined the Jeff Blair Show earlier today to discuss the club’s pitching staff and the upcoming July 31st trade deadline.

Atkins told Blair that the believes the Blue Jays have the internal pieces to improve their bullpen, but added that initial trade discussions have grown significantly over the past week around the league.

“I think there’s a lot of creativity already happening,” Atkins said. “There’s already a lot of discussion, it’s really picked up in the last week, and I think next week it’ll be pedal to the metal where the discussions, acquisitions, and trades are actually getting very close to happening.”

The return of Brett Cecil should aid in the bullpen’s rebound, and Atkins is also confident that the Blue Jays have one of the league’s top closers.

“There aren’t a lot of teams that have a Roberto Osuna at the end of games,” he told Blair, “that is something that is very difficult to acquire. It’s a little bit easier to compliment and supplement are the pieces around.”

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One of the more intriguing takeaways from the conversation with Atkins was his openness to the possibility of Drew Hutchison being used in a bullpen role later this season.

“There’s certainly that scenario,” Atkins said. “I think he’s one of our best pitchers, so if we get to a point where our starting pitching is not in need of him any longer and we feel like we can get in to the postseason without him as a starting pitcher then he will absolutely be a part of the solution.”

The 25-year-old right-hander remains the next arm in line for a role in the starting rotation should injury, performance, or the workload limit of Aaron Sanchez create an opening. Given the recent departure of Wade LeBlanc, though, there isn’t much MLB-ready depth behind him.

Openness to this move could grant the Blue Jays a level of flexibility, however. If, over a next month, a depth starter comes at a more comfortable cost than a relief arm, then that acquisition can be made with Hutchison’s bullpen potential in mind.

Hutchison is 6-3 over 15 starts in triple-A, striking out 97 batters over 87.1 innings.

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