Once again Ross Atkins didn’t mince words when asked about his plans or 2019, or the future of the Toronto Blue Jays. He sounds like a man with a plan.
As the Winter Meeting take place this week it should be one of the busier times for news for the offseason. It’s entirely possible that all of the rumours could amount to a hill of beans for the Blue Jays, but there is bound to plenty of discussion, such as the continued rumours around Aaron Sanchez and Marcus Stroman.
While I’ve continued to maintain that trading the starting duo right now doesn’t make sense, the latest notable quote from GM Ross Atkins might give the discussion a little more perspective.
When asked about how Atkins envisions building the 25 man roster for the 2019 season, he had an interesting response, captured in a tweet from Rob Longley of the Toronto Sun.
"“That’s not how we’re looking to make the organization better”"
If I’m interpreting this right (and I’m not sure how else we’re supposed to take it), Atkins isn’t worried about the 2019 season all that much, at least not at this stage of the offseason. He knows his team is at the beginning stages of a rebuild, and there’s a very good chance that the 2019 campaign, and even the 2020 season could be difficult for the Blue Jays and their fans. There is a great deal of young talent on this roster, but there is a lot of learning to be done at the big league level, and that takes time.
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I have a great deal of confidence in a group that will eventually be lead by the likes of Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Danny Jansen, and more, but Atkins is probably right in his assumption that 2019 won’t be the year the Blue Jays return to the playoffs. Still, he has to care a bit about next year, no?
What’s interesting about the quote is that it might give a little more perspective as to why he’s been so open to the possibility of trading Stroman and or Sanchez. The Blue Jays need the starting pitching depth for sure, but right now Atkins is eyeing things with a long term lens. To that end, maybe it does make sense to shop the starting duo and see what they might fetch now. I sincerely doubt the return will be top notch after tough seasons for both of them in 2018, but you never know what might get offered in a sometimes crazy market. The price of starting pitching often gets out of hand and several GMs like to peruse the trade market.
It also makes me wonder if this quote means that the Blue Jays could look to shop other veterans like Kevin Pillar, Devon Travis, Justin Smoak, or even Ken Giles. There have been rumours about Pillar maybe being a trade candidate, but nothing concrete from Atkins himself. However, if he’s serious about trading Stroman or Sanchez, why not move on from the rest of the group, assuming you can get some sort of return?
It’ll be interesting to see if the Blue Jays make any significant moves this week, or if Atkins is setting himself up for later this winter. Regardless of what ends up happening, he’s definitely got us all talking at a time when I assumed things would be pretty quiet.