Blue Jays’ Ross Atkins reiterates need for infield depth

TORONTO, ON - JUNE 4: Devon Travis
TORONTO, ON - JUNE 4: Devon Travis /

In an interview this week on Sportnet’s “At The Letters”, GM Ross Atkins once again reiterated the need for infield depth for the Blue Jays in 2018.

Not much has changed for the Blue Jays at this early stage of the offseason, but the same could pretty much be said for the other 29 teams as well. While baseball fans are left waiting for the hot stove to get kicked into action, we’re left speculating on what our favourite teams may do.

If you’ve been following the Blue Jays, the message has been pretty consistent from the front office. That was the case again this week when Ross Atkins went on Sportsnet’s “At The Letters”, and discussed the state of the offseason, and the upcoming 2018 season.

As he has said all along, Atkins expects the Blue Jays to be competitive in 2018, and the approach from the front office has that philosophy in mind. As much as we’ve heard the media talk about Josh Donaldson being potentially available in trade, it sounds as though that angle of thinking hasn’t really entered the equation for the Blue Jays’ brain trust.

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Besides the fact that the team wants to compete again in 2018, Atkins has also consistently delivered another message: the need for middle infield depth. Pretty much every time he’s been asked about what needs the team will pursue this offseason, his answer has remained the same, despite holes to fill in several spots on the club.

He didn’t really mince words either when talking about his keystone of Devon Travis and Troy Tulowitzki, recognizing their talent but also admitting their shortcomings in the health department. Combined the two of them played just 116 games in 2017, leaving the middle infield in the defensively capable hands of guys like Ryan Goins and Darwin Barney, but making it a wasteland on offence.

"“We’ve got to protect our middle infield. Devon Travis is a player that is remarkable when he’s on the field. And we hope that he is, but we’re not going to plan on him playing 160 games. We’re not going to plan on Troy Tulowitzki playing 160 games. So, who’s going to play the 80-160 games between those two positions and what’s the best possible fit to create depth and versatility?” – Ross Atkins"

Atkins did also talk about the need for pitching, but it’s pretty clear that bringing in an infielder is a big priority, as it obviously should be.

The Blue Jays did pick up Gift Ngoepe from the Pittsburgh Pirates for a player to be named later or cash considerations, but expect them to be in on more established names with a more extensive big league resume.

The front office may have to wait for some of the bigger dominoes to fall in free agency before the player movement really gets going, but as always money talks, so don’t be surprised if the Blue Jays are among the teams to strike early again this year, especially if it’s to bring in that coveted middle infielder.

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