Blue Jays Morning Brew: Offseason and free agency notes, podcast

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 /

News and notes on the Toronto Blue Jays’ upcoming offseason, which promises to be a busy one

For the Toronto Blue Jays and 27 other teams, the World Series is the calm before the storm. Teams have internal business to handle over the coming week, including decisions on contract options and qualifying offers, but when free agency opens, the sprint begins.

Ahead are some recent updates on the Blue Jays and the lengthy ‘to-do’ list that awaits them.

Grilli’s option: A no-brainer
General manager Ross Atkins left little doubt about the club’s stance on reliever Jason Grilli when he met with media on Monday, as Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet wrote here.

“As near to a no-brainer to pick up as you can get,” Atkins said. His age — Grilli is turning 40 — and some struggles late in the regular season briefly brought this in to question, but a strong playoff run and an already-thin Blue Jays bullpen means that re-upping with Grilli will eliminate one variable from the outset.

Jays Nest Podcast, Episode 96
The Jays Nest Podcast is back with another weekly episode from Shaun Doyle and myself, which you can listen to here on Jays From the Couch.

This week, we prep for the long offseason ahead by breaking down the Blue Jays positions of need and where we think the club should go from a “big picture” standpoint. We also enjoy another round of Fill in the Blank!  Subscribe here for iOS / iTunes  -or-  Subscribe here for Android

Alford showing some pop in Arizona Fall League

More from Toronto Blue Jays News

Despite his top prospect status, a late start to his professional baseball career means that Blue Jays’ outfielder Anthony Alford is still much more raw than his age suggests. He’s currently getting some added reps in the Arizona Fall League, and the early results are encouraging.

Through eight games with Mesa, Alford is hitting .290 with two home runs and five RBI. More notably, he’s hitting in the heart of the order (Alford spent much of 2016 batting leadoff). You can read more on Alford’s progress here from William Boor of

“I think the higher I go up, I’m probably going to be more of a middle-of-the-line-up type of guy and pitchers are probably going to start throwing me more breaking balls and offspeed pitches,” Alford said. “I’m glad I’ve got this experience to see how it is, hitting in the middle of the lineup.”

Sanchez won’t be limited in 2017
Back to Ross Atkins for a moment, Sportsnet’s Mike Johnston brings us an important takeaway from Atkins’ recent appearance on The Jeff Blair Show.

Starter Aaron Sanchez will not have an innings limit next season — though his offseason workload will be closely monitored — which shouldn’t come as a surprise given how the young right-hander pushed 200.0 innings this season. The 2017 season will still be a significant test for Sanchez, however. He’s proved his ability, now he needs to prove his sustainability.

Atkins on reinforcements from triple-A
Atkins also touched on a handful of Blue Jays minor league players that could impact the Major League roster next year, which Andrew Stoeten broke down here for Blue Jays Nation.

Two players mentioned by name were A.J. Jimemez and Dalton Pompey. Toronto’s uncertain outfield picture makes Pompey a common possibility, at least to compete for a job, but Jimenez still has a step to take after an injury-plagued career in the minors. The Blue Jays do need an upgrade at backup catcher, however, to relieve Russell Martin and preserve his body over the final three years of his deal.

Next: Blue Jays: Big-name OF targets, free agent primer

Love, from Muni
Munenori Kawasaki is off chasing a World Series ring, and another cigar, with the Chicago Cubs. Scott Mitchell of the Toronto Sun asked Muni about his old club recently, and how he felt seeing them lose out in the ALCS.

“Toronto lose and I was very sad,” Kawasaki said Monday. “I love Toronto. Why did Toronto lose? Don’t have Kawa. That’s it.”

Who’s to argue?