Blue Jays: Key to the off-season may be an aggressive start

TORONTO, CANADA - DECEMBER 4: President Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins pose for a photo after speaking to the media as Atkins is introduced as the new general manager of the Toronto Blue Jays during a press conference on December 4, 2015 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
TORONTO, CANADA - DECEMBER 4: President Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins pose for a photo after speaking to the media as Atkins is introduced as the new general manager of the Toronto Blue Jays during a press conference on December 4, 2015 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) /
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If the Blue Jays are serious about adding to their roster ahead of the 2021 season, the best way to do it in 2020 is to have an aggressive approach.

Later this evening the Dodgers will have a chance to finish off the Rays for their first World Series since 1988, and if they do, that means we’ll be just five more days away from the start of free agency.

And if I were in charge of the Blue Jays, I’d be ready to come roaring out of the gates. In fact, I believe that an aggressive approach with free agent targets could be the key to success, likely more so than any off-season we’ve seen before.

I believe that’ll be the case for a number of reasons, and let’s start with the most obvious. With the Covid-19 pandemic keeping fans out of the stands throughout the regular season, ownership groups across baseball lost a ton of revenue. That’s significant for a number of reasons, and you can bet it’ll have an effect on free agency this year. I doubt it’ll be the case with every MLB franchise, but I’m sure there are several GM’s that will be working with a tight budget this winter. I don’t know how the Blue Jays and/or Rogers plan to set the budget for 2021, but the massive media company likely weathered the storm better than many others.

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If that’s the case, simply having the available funds to sign free agents could be a significant advantage. It could go even more that way if they are ready to spend in the early days of free agency as well, rather than wait things out as they often have in the past.

Agents and their soon-to-be free agent players also have to be aware that this market will almost assuredly be a lukewarm to even cold one. My guess is that many franchises would prefer to wait until later in the winter before committing big dollars to the payroll, giving them a better idea of what next season could look like for ticket revenue. If that’s the case, a “fair” offer early in free agency might be a lot more appealing than in year’s past, and also something that not every team can offer right away. Because of those factors, I could see free agents signing more quickly this off-season.

That doesn’t mean that I’m advocating for a reckless spending spree, but I do think the Blue Jays would be wise to pick their targets, and make a strong offer right away. Whether that’s to someone like Taijuan Walker, who they can talk with before he officially becomes a free agent, or someone from outside the organization, there’s not much sense in waiting it out if there are clear needs to address, and the Blue Jays have some of those.

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My guess is the Blue Jays will look to retain Walker if they can, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Matt Shoemaker and Robbie Ray had some appeal as well. Whether it’s rotation options, bullpen arms, a new third baseman or something else, I believe the best way to take care of the checklist is to act quickly, and it be a unique opportunity to take advantage of.

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