The stove could not be hotter right now. Major League Baseball has seen some of the game's top free agents come off the board in just the last 24 hours.
One of those players is catcher Willson Contreras, who's reportedly finalizing a five-year, $87.5M contract with the St. Louis Cardinals, giving the club the catcher of the future in the wake of Yadier Molina's retirement.
Why does this matter to the Blue Jays? Well, the catching market just got a whole lot tighter.
Christian Vazquez is now the best available backstop on the free agent front alongside lesser names like Omar Narváez, Tucker Barnhart, Mike Zunino and Gary Sánchez.
On the trade front, the only real names being discussed in the rumor mill this season aside from Sean Murphy are the trio of Gabriel Moreno, Alejandro Kirk and Danny Jansen. Teams said to be looking for a catcher include the Astros, Twins, Diamondbacks, Brewers, Mets, Guardians and Braves.
Now that Contreras is off the board and a Sean Murphy trade "appears to be close", teams may begin to more aggressively pursue one of the Jays backstops.
Blue Jays news:
Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet reported that the Blue Jays are active in free agency on multiple fronts. Spots in need of an upgrade include the rotation, bullpen and outfield and the club is eyeing Kodai Senga, Alex Reyes and Michael Brantley.
Shi Davidi, also of Sportsnet, reported that the Blue Jays are "all over the starting pitching market", adding that there is at least some interest in Carlos Rodón, Nathan Eovaldi and 2022 rotation member Ross Stripling.
The club was also pursuing some of the bigger fish in the starting pitching market including Jameson Taillon, Justin Verlander, Andrew Heaney and Kyle Gibson before each of the quartet signed elsewhere.
With popular free agent target Cody Bellinger coming off the board, Brandon Nimmo seems to be the most logical fit for the Jays in center field. Nimmo, 29, has a long list of suitors in free agency with the Blue Jays repeatedly being listed as one of the most active clubs pursuing his services.
News around the league:
The Tampa Bay Rays traded left-handed reliever Brooks Raley to the New York Mets for minor league pitcher Keyshawn Askew.
Switch-hitting first baseman Josh Bell signed with the Cleveland Guardians yesterday on a two-year, $33M contract. His deal contains an opt out after the first season.
The Pirates brought aboard Vince Velasquez, a swingman who can fill a hole either in the rotation or the bullpen for the rebuilding club.
Mitch Haniger, a popular name in the Blue Jays rumor mill, signed with the Giants on a three-year, $43.5M contract with an opt out after two years.
Andrew Heaney, who the Blue Jays made an offer to, signed a two-year, $25M contract with the Texas Rangers, who land their second starting pitcher in under a week.
The Chicago Cubs struck near the top of the second tier of starting pitchers, signing Jameson Taillon to a four-year, $68M contract.
Rejuvenated starter José Quintana is now a member of the New York Mets starting rotation as he was signed to a two-year, $26M contract by the club.
In the lesser of two contracts handed out by AL East clubs today, the Red Sox shored up the back end of their bullpen by signing Kenley Jansen to a two-year, $32M contract.
And finally, the big one. Aaron Judge is not leaving the division after all, as he signed a massive nine-year, $360M deal with the Yankees that will keep him in the Bronx for the rest of his career.