As ESPN’s Jeff Passan pointed out on Wednesday, the Blue Jays have a legitimate incentive to try and their offseason work done sooner than later.
Another day has passed, and the MLB free agent market continues to be at a standstill. For many teams that’s more or less the expectation at the moment, but the Blue Jays are one of the few exceptions.
According to most reports we’re hearing, it’s not for a lack of trying on the part of Ross Atkins and the front office. They’ve been linked to all kinds of free agents and potential trade targets, and it would seem that they’ve left no stone unturned. That said, with the exception of re-upping with Robbie Ray shortly after the free agency period began, there hasn’t been much movement.
The biggest reason for that would be the unprecedented season we just witnessed, and one that was pared down to just 60 regular season games, and with no fans in the seats to boot. That left a lot of ownership groups in a tough spot, and in many cases one that will prevent them from spending to upgrade their rosters this winter. However, there has been more positive news recently with the development and release of vaccines, and hope that maybe we’ll be able to experience some semi-normalcy in the baseball world in 2021.
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And while that’s good news in 99.9% of ways, for the Blue Jays it might just provide a greater sense of urgency from the front office before the year comes to a close.
ESPN’s Jeff Passan joined Sportnet’s Tim & Sid on Wednesday, and did a great job of explaining the situation. Essentially, it all comes down to the key word of “uncertainty” being the stall to this offseason. Baseball is a business after all, and spending to improve your roster comes with a cost. It’s tough to commit to paying that cost without knowing what your revenues might look like in 2021, what with the Pandemic still going on and all. Coming back to the Blue Jays, how does this affect them?
"“There’s nothing that business people hate more than uncertainty. If, all of a sudden there is a plan in place in January, or even in February, that gives owners a better feeling about their financial situation and gives them more certainty going forward, don’t you think they’re going to be more inclined to go out and spend then? That is what logically would seem to make sense, that with certainty would come money. So I think there are some players out there saying let’s ride this wave of uncertainty and let the owners figure out where their finances are, and then see what the market looks like. Because right now the market is not particularly robust outside of Toronto and New York.”"
I think Passan hits the nail on the head here, when it comes to strategy for MLB front offices, and even why most free agents have yet to choose their next destination. As for the Blue Jays, I think he brings home the point with a final thought.
"“So if the Blue Jays want to close a deal, getting it done sooner than later is the optimal route for them because you may invite bidders back into things the longer you wait.”"
As always, the Blue Jays only have so much control over getting a deal done, as it takes two to tango, and they need a willing dance partner. However, Passan makes a great point that the longer the market takes to materialize, the more players that could get involved. What might right now be a two-horse race could quickly double, triple, or worse.
Does that mean that Atkins should panic and overspend this week? Probably not. However, as we approach the end of the month it might be wise to continuously evaluate the market, and just how willing they are to stretch to get their desired target. The Blue Jays may be in an enviable position at the moment, but as we’ve learned in spades in 2020, things can change in a hurry.