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Blue Jays: What’s left on Ross Atkins’ offseason checklist?

TORONTO, CANADA - APRIL 8: President and CEO Mark Shapiro of the Toronto Blue Jays with his daughter Sierra and general manager Ross Atkins on the field before the start of MLB game action against the Boston Red Sox on April 8, 2016 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
TORONTO, CANADA - APRIL 8: President and CEO Mark Shapiro of the Toronto Blue Jays with his daughter Sierra and general manager Ross Atkins on the field before the start of MLB game action against the Boston Red Sox on April 8, 2016 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) /
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TORONTO, ON – SEPTEMBER 7: Richard Urena #7 of the Toronto Blue Jays gets the force out of Edwin Encarnacion #10 of the Cleveland Indians at second base but cannot turn the double play in the second inning during MLB game action at Rogers Centre on September 7, 2018 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON – SEPTEMBER 7: Richard Urena #7 of the Toronto Blue Jays gets the force out of Edwin Encarnacion #10 of the Cleveland Indians at second base but cannot turn the double play in the second inning during MLB game action at Rogers Centre on September 7, 2018 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) /

Another Infielder, preferably a shortstop

It’s a little bit funny when you look back at the start of the offseason, and the Blue Jays had too many infielders, and now they could probably use an extra shortstop. There was method to their madness though. They ended up getting a potential starter in Trent Thornton for Aledmys Diaz, and Troy Tulowitzki didn’t really fit into their rebuild plans.

The type of player they need is something like Eric Sogard, however, it’s hard to say whether or not he can fill the role they may need from him. As of this writing, my assumption is that the infield will be made up of Lourdes Gurriel Jr. at shortstop, Devon Travis at second, Brandon Drury at third, and Justin Smoak at first base. Once Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is called up a few weeks into the season, he’ll take over the full-time duties at third with Drury sliding into a job share with Travis, and potential starts around the diamond in a utility role. They’ll also have Richard Urena as a back-up infielder, assuming he wins the job out of spring training.

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Atkins has already talked about the potential need for another infielder, and it wouldn’t hurt if they had someone else that could handle shortstop in particular. The idea is to give Gurriel Jr. the majority of starts and to have Urena back him up, but if either get injured or significantly falter, I’m not sure that starting Sogard is how the Blue Jays want to go. They do have Bo Bichette waiting in the Triple-A wings as part of their organizational shortstop depth, but he’s a good enough prospect that they may not want to debut him based on injury needs.

There aren’t a lot of available options on the free agent market at the moment, but someone like Freddy Galvis or Adeiny Hechaverria would fit the bill. It’s also possible the Blue Jays are content to roll with what they’ve got and see what happens when teams start making cuts prior to Opening Day. Either way, it’s a situation that’s worth keeping an eye on, as Atkins has directly mentioned the possible need.

I thought about including an argument for adding another outfielder, or even a few other ideas, but I’m not sure that would fall in the “need” category. For now, the four items listed above should be the focus of the remainder of the Blue Jays’ offseason, at least in my estimation.

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With an eye on the long term it’s possible that not every box gets checked this winter, and that it’s a puzzle that’s going to be built throughout the year. When the immediate priority isn’t set on winning, that allows a front office to do a lot of different things, and to take a lot more relaxed approach. Chances are Atkins will continue to add to the roster before spring training, but it’ll probably be done pretty late in the game.

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