We keep hearing the term “aggressive” in terms of the Blue Jays’ pursuit of free agents, but so far it’s hard to know exactly what that word means to Ross Atkins and the rest of the front office staff.
The first full day of the Winter Meetings brought a big bang with the Nationals re-signing Stephen Strasburg to a new seven year contract worth 245 million dollars. It was also another reminder for Blue Jays fans that the team is still without meaningful rotation upgrades, and the options continue to dwindle.
To be fair, the Blue Jays were never going to be serious players for the services of Strasburg, and chances are the 31-year-old preferred to return to Washington all along anyway. However, as the market continues to move much faster than it has over the last two off-seasons, the sense of urgency is starting to creep up a bit.
It’s still early, but so far we’ve heard a lot of talk from the Blue Jays, and not a lot of action as far as improving the roster. Other than trading for Chase Anderson of the Milwaukee Brewers, all they’ve done is sign a handful of minor league free agents, and of course non-tender a few of their own. For all of the talk about being “aggressive” from Ross Atkins when speaking to the media, and even from the comments from agents that have come back to the media, we’ve yet to see the Blue Jays make an impact move.
The lack of movement has many of us asking the same question: What does it mean to the Blue Jays to be aggressive?
We heard from Charlie Montoyo yesterday, and he gave us a little more of a window into how things have gone. He backed up his bosses and mentioned that he’s seen what he views as good offers, but he also had one quote in particular that stuck out when talking about Kyle Gibson, who chose to sign with the Texas Rangers instead.
"“You hate to lose guys like Gibson. I was there when we made the offers and they were pretty good offers, just somebody else made a better offer.”"
Somebody else made a better offer. Kinda simple, no?
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We don’t know for sure how the Blue Jays valued Gibson or what kind of offer they made to the former Minnesota Twin, but Montoyo more or less confirmed they were outbid by the Rangers. We also know that despite the Blue Jays expressing serious interest in Jake Odorizzi before he accepted the Qualifying Offer from the Twins, it wasn’t enough to get him to walk away from a contender, and a chance to hit the market without any restrictions in a year.
If the Blue Jays were truly being “aggressive” when it came to Gibson or Odorizzi, I feel like they likely could have had either pitcher. Free agency often requires a bit of an overpay for players at or near the top of the market, especially for a rebuilding team, and the only franchise outside of the United States. That said, both of those right-handers presented a legitimate opportunity that wasn’t seized. That might be because of how the Blue Jays evaluated them compared to the other free agent options, but that remains to be seen.
If we’re to really buy the notion that this front office has been aggressive, it comes down to results. Atkins and company can’t control if a free agent chooses another destination despite a better offer from the Blue Jays, but they can control who has the highest bid. It’s possible that they have made the highest bid on one of the options that have already come off of the free agent board, but we have no reason to assume that until it’s been legitimately reported somewhere.
Until they actually sign someone, or we at least hear that they were the top bidder on a free agent somewhere, it’s hard not to roll your eyes a bit at the term “aggressive”. Not to be cliche, but Webster’s Dictionary define’s aggressive as, “a forceful action or procedure, especially when intended to dominate or master”. With all due respect to the Blue Jays’ front office, but I don’t think they’ve been very forceful, or dominant. At least not yet.