Blue Jays: Atkins speaking and acting with confidence
There is a lot of work yet to be done, but Blue Jays GM Ross Atkins is speaking confidently in the media, and acting accordingly so far this winter.
The more I hear Ross Atkins talk about the Blue Jays’ plans for this winter, the more I believe that they have legitimate intentions to upgrade the roster in a big way. It seem like the Jays are linked to pretty much every above-average player on the market, and it feels like a matter of time before something shakes loose from all of the rumours and becomes reality.
According to Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson Smith’s updates on Tuesday, it sounds like Atkins is feeling very confident that will happen, even going as far as saying “It doesn’t take much at this point for a deal to happen”, signalling that the Blue Jays are either on the verge of signing a free agent, making a trade, or possibly both. I’ve written about how the timing of multiple moves could be significant, and I have a feeling that will ultimately apply.
Of course, it’s one thing to talk a bigger game, but the Blue Jays took a step toward walking it as well a pair of roster decisions they made ahead of the deadline to tender their own players a contract. They ultimately chose not to retain A.J. Cole and Travis Shaw, with the former coming as a bit of a surprise. As for the latter, I figured there was about a 50/50 shot of their hanging on to Shaw, especially because they don’t really have a replacement lined up for him at third base just yet.
More from Jays Journal
- Matt Chapman has been exactly what the Blue Jays needed
- Blue Jays: The goalposts are moving in the right direction
- Single-A Dunedin Blue Jays advance to the Championship Series
- Blue Jays: Comparisons for Alek Manoah’s Second Season
- Blue Jays: Adam Cimber, the unlikely decision King
Rather than retaining him and trying to sell the fan base on the value of depth, or whatever other arguments that would have been used, the Blue Jays simply decided not to tender Shaw a contract for next season. They could have kept him and used him as depth at first, second, and third base, but it’s likely that the veteran will seek to find an opportunity to start every day, and it’s encouraging to see that won’t happen in Toronto. It’s nothing personal, but it’s time for this talented young club to push themselves from good to great, and upgrading Shaw’s spot in the lineup could be a big boost.
The fact that the Blue Jays are moving on from Shaw isn’t all that significant at this stage in the offseason, but it is important since his departure leaves a hole on the roster. We’ve heard all winter that they intend to look for an upgrade for the infield, but sometimes the best of intentions can fall short. After watching Atkins and Mark Shapiro operate for a few years, I’d be very surprised if deciding not to tender Shaw wasn’t a calculated decision, and they have more than one plausible about how to fill the lineup spot.
Whether that means signing a free agent like Kolton Wong, Andrelton Simmons, or Justin Turner, or looking to the trade market at guys like Francisco Lindor and more, it sounds like the Blue Jays aren’t very far away from revealing what they’ve been working on. Of course, they’re still at the mercy of a free agent they’re chasing, or a team they’re negotiating a trade with, but Atkins hasn’t been one to speak too far ahead of himself. The fact that he’s expressing confidence, at all really, has to be seen as a very good sign.