Photo Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Winter Meetings Wednesday: Atkins Expects Movement In the Next Week, Talks CC, Yelich, More

Ross Atkins has once again met with the assembled media down in Orlando to discuss where his team is at after what’s been a quiet Winter Meetings so far, and once again the great Mike Wilner has done an excellent job of scooping up all of the GM’s comments and tweeting them out. So once again, let’s take a closer look at where the GM is at…

On the Slow Meetings So Far…

I know that there’s an instinct among fans watching other teams starting to make moves that makes them want to shout “DO SOMETHING!” at the Jays, but I think we all know that rushing into moves just for the sake of doing something doesn’t make any sense. We need only to look at last year’s Kendrys Morales signing as an example of why patience can be a virtue. Not patience for the sake of it, either, of course. But the fact that fans are antsy for moves is a pretty dumb reason to pay more to add a piece than you might have if you waited for things to develop more.

So… we wait. In the meantime, as Atkins said yesterday, progress continues to be made:

I mean… OK. Lots of talk, lots of similar valuations, not a lot of teams in the two Wild Card era doing the Marlins thing where they’re just packing it in and not even attempting to be good.  The Jays are in the second tier of AL clubs, all of whom are behind the Astros, Yankees, Red Sox, and Cleveland, and all of whom are looking to make incremental improvements at as low cost as possible. The Jays, Mariners, Angels, Twins, and Rangers all want to avoid destroying their futures in futile pursuit of the teams ahead of them, but are good enough as constituted to grab a Wild Card, maybe even a division if things break right, and who knows where things go from there? You could maybe even put the Rays, Orioles, and A’s in this group, too.

They’re going to add. They’re going to be cautious about it though. Case in point:

It’s little wonder things are slow. They won’t be forever.

On CC Sabathia…

As I said yesterday, he’d be a very nice fit. All for it.

On Christian Yelich…

Yelich would be a great, great addition to the Jays. But holy shit he would cost a lot. As much as he’s precisely the kind of guy that you want your best prospects to turn into, uh… is he the guy you want three of your prospects to turn into?

I think he certainly could be if you’re a team that’s closer to being a true, unequivocal championship contender than the Jays are. Or if you’re one that has a lot deeper a system to shed talent from than the Jays do. But will the Jays be willing to push as hard as another team to get this one piece? This one piece who will be great, but that only gets them so much closer to being able to contend for the AL East? I just don’t see it. I just don’t see them having the willingness to push that extra piece in that gets the deal done.

On Aaron Sanchez…

Fair stuff. Fingers crossed.

On the Rule 5 Draft…

The Jays have tried to use the Rule 5 to swipe a player in each of the last two years, with one of them working out very well, and one not. Glenn Sparkman was a bust in 2017, but Joe Biagini remains a valuable piece for the organization, as Atkins himself noted today:

Could another alternative for the rotation be what the Jays look at when they pick 12th in the Rule Five tomorrow? Maybe, but an arm is going to be difficult to keep on the roster all year. One player that could fairly easily carry, I think? Tampa catcher Nick Ciuffo.

Baseball America prepared capsules on all Rule 5 eligible players for their subscribers this week, and out in front of the paywall was their top five picks, among them Ciuffo, about whom they said this:

As a lefthanded hitting catcher with developing power, Ciuffo could be picked as a backup catcher much like Stuart Turner, who stuck with the Reds all year last year in a backup role. Turner is a little better than Ciuffo defensively, but Ciuffo has more offensive upside, as he started to show signs of hitting for more power in 2017. Ciuffo has an average arm, is a steady pitch framer and calls a solid game, but his feet limit his blocking ability.

The Jays pick 12th and BA ranked Ciuffo as the fifth best option available, so maybe he’s not there by the time they pick, but he could definitely be an intriguing option at a spot where they still need help.

Maybe I’m wrong on that. The Jays already have a bunch of catchers on the 40-man, and while Luke Maile could be optioned down to the minors if a better backup option is added, that would create a bit of a log jam in Buffalo, where Danny Jansen and Reese McGuire really need to get the bulk of the reps. Maybe McGuire is as good as Ciuffo anyway — he had better raw numbers at the plate than Ciuffo did this year, and they both were at Double-A, but that’s before factoring for park and league.

So… I don’t know! Maybe I’m wrong there and pitching is the more likely move. After all:

Sounds like they’re at least going to do something — and with just 38 spots on their 40-man occupied, they might as well.

On Priorities…

There was a “rumour” earlier that the Jays are one of the teams in in Eduardo Núñez, though that feels like more of a “putting two and two together” kind of thing than anything especially newsworthy. But sure — another piece for the middle infield, especially because with a view to moving that piece or Devon Travis into the outfield when the roster is fully healthy, makes a bunch of sense.

Yes it would. Yes it would.

No, but seriously, do it!

  • AD

    I get that yelich is pricy but hes exactly the kind of guy the jays need if they want to be good. Everybody other than vlad jr or bichette in the farm should be on the table for him. Hes young enougn too that he can still be in his prime when the jays are really good again. If jays offer to take all his $ off the marlins hands, they can do it. I dont think yelich wants to stay in miami either.

      • AD

        I probably would trade bichette as well. Seems like the jays have travis/diaz for the next 3-4 years at 2b. And to be honest, I dont know if bichette is as “cant miss” as vlad jr. He has an unconvential swing and who knows how that will work in the majors. And yelich has years left and cost certainty on his contract. Lefty bat too. Jays need to get on this asap, screw the carloses and bruce( for now).

        • problem is it wouldn’t just be bo, it’d be bo, plus probably another relatively high-value prospect, plus perhaps more; yelich’s value is in the money owed to him, they aren’t going to be moved all that much by a team willing to eat all of what’s left. they’ll get a better prospect return for him than they did for stanton.

          i’m not sure i’m willing to move either bo or vlad…and i think all this talk about his swing has been over-discussed to the point it’s become some narrative. it’s not really all that funky.

    • ErnieWhitt

      Word is they wanted Vlad and Bichette for Osuna. That’s the problem with having high profile prospects. Everyone will want them for whatever you ask for.

  • Player to Be Named Later

    I’m intrigued by the possibility that Travis could potentially have a future in the outfield. But does anyone know – has anyone associated with the team ever spoken to this? Or is this something that we’ve concocted ourselves in our collective rosterbation?

  • lukewarmwater

    The unfortunate situation with the Jays as Andrew astutely points out is that there are several other teams after the remaining positional free agents out there. Last year the only out fielder who was highly sought was Fowler who ended up of course with the Cardinals.
    No sense in bringing in plus 30 players as it has dawned on Aitkins after going after Morales and the always injured Pearce that bringing in veterans is taking you to nowheresville.
    Now just as a lot of other teams are bidding for free agents let us not forget these other teams are also developing their farm systems. Now just suppose Bichette, Vlad and say Alford are all solid big leaguers in three years. Do you really think the Yankees and Boston will stop their bidding wars on free agents each year and continue to develop their own players.
    In my library of sports books, I have Peter Golenbock’s book Dynasty , the New York Yankees 1949-1964 when only in 1954 and 1959 did they not win the pennant in the old 16 team M.L.B. In 1955 a chap by the name of Arnold Johnson bought Connie Mack’s Philadelphia A’s and moved them to K.C. Johnson was a very close friend to Yankee owner Dan Topping and couldn’t do enough favours for the Yankees. As he moved players such as Clete Boyer, Bob Turley and Roger Maris to the Yankees. In reality K.C. became a farm club of the Yankees, masquerading as a major league team.
    Well, well, well , history does repeat itself as Derek Jeter is the new G.M. of the Yankees farm team the Miami Marlins. Expect more deals of players like the block buster last week.
    So sadly for the Jays, Orioles, Rays having to play in that division basically cuts you down to one wild card postion. Good luck in getting it. Mind you as the new flavour expression of this era, Baltimore, Tampa and the Jays will play meaningful games into September some years.

      • lukewarmwater

        Well I presume your grand pappy is now in baseball heaven as you used the word talkED. But you see Ernie I am a grandfather in fact the grand kids are now in their 20’s and I do vividly remember those great Yankee teams from the mid 1950’s to 1964. One year the White Sox manager said, how can I win the pennant when the Yankees have a farm team , namely the K.C. club also playing in the American league. If Jeter’s first move and I get Carlos could go where he wants, is any example, expect the Yankees to feast on making deals with the Marlins and thus putting Miami in the category of a triple A team for the Yankees. Jeter will make a great triple A G.M.
        Heh more power to the Yankees, Red Sox, Cubs, Dodgers, teams that simply want to win every year for the economic sense it makes but also for their fans. I mean what a concept.

  • lukewarmwater

    Speaking of versatility, remember when the Toronto media was a buzz last year over signing the 106 game man Steve Pearce. Why he could play several positions. But as we found out, he indeed was a utility player who couldn’t play any position well. I would think the comment by the G.M. would imply we will be charging hard in the hut to find the next Steve Pearce.

  • Voidhelix

    Yelich will cost a lot? On what exactly, from the recent actions of the Marlins, are you basing that on? They’re giving players up for peanuts. But this guff about caution is ridiculous. The reality is that every deal Atkins & Shapiro makes is with damage limitation in mind. Yes, even Morales. Three year deals at most. Protection of asset capital. This team should be aggressively robust, but is instead acting as if they’re slowly backing into a collapse. If you’re intending to transition, then do it now. Rip the plaster off. If you’re going to compete, ACT like it. This middle of the road mentality, just hurts everyone. Except Rogers. Because they’re just afraid of losing revenue streams.

    • DAKINS

      Yelich is young, controllable, and cheap. Why trade him now unless the return is something you can’t pass up?

      This isn’t the same as shedding large contracts like in the case of Stanton. The Marlins will most likely want an actual return for him, as it’s not just a salary dump. We still don’t know what they got for Ozuna.

  • 0noggin

    They could do worse than signing Sabathia. If they keep JD, add a couple more upgrades (OF, IF) and the team has a healthier year (which is a lot), then they have a chance at contending. They would have a very good starting 5 and one of the better bullpens, but they’ll still need a lot of things breaking their way – including an Alford or Pompey making the jump and contributing at a high level.