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Ross Atkins says the Blue Jays were “close on another deal” this week

The Blue Jays kicked off their off-season last weekend by inking Robbie Ray to a one-year deal.

According to general manager Ross Atkins, the team was also close to executing another deal shortly after that signing.

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As Ben Nicholson-Smith notes, Atkins declined to mention whether this was a trade or a free agent. Let’s put on our detective hats and try to figure out who it might have been.

Given how the market is moving along like a glacier, it’s pretty unlikely that the Blue Jays and somebody else were close to pulling the trigger on a trade, so we can pretty safely assume that it was a free agent the team was closing in on.

Eight players have agreed to contracts so far this off-season. There’s Ray, who signed with the Jays, Kendall Graveman, Josh Harrison, and Mike Tomlin, who are also sticking around with their teams, Jose Peraza and Mallex Smith, who inked minor-league deals, and Marcus Stroman and Kevin Gausman, who accepted their qualifying offers.

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The best guess here, as Arden Zwelling of Sportsnet pointed out, would probably be Gausman. After the way things went between the two sides back in 2019, I have a hard time imagining that there’s going to be a Marcus Stroman/Blue Jays reunion, so that leaves us with Gausman. I would guess the Jays offered him a two-year deal and that he ultimately decided to bet on himself, take the qualifying offer from the San Fransisco Giants, and give free agency a go again next year.

The Blue Jays were reportedly in on Gausman last year before he ended up signing a one-year deal with the Giants, so it would make sense they circled back after his solid showing in 2020.

Who knows! Maybe Atkins was close to a 10-player deal to acquire Francisco Lindor. It’s all just speculation at this point as the off-season slowly grinds along.

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