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Blue Jays GM Ross Atkins talked about the Bo Bichette trade rumours, Shohei Ohtani, Juan Soto, and more
2 months ago
This is a huge off-season for the Toronto Blue Jays — and it looks like things are finally going to start to get going when the Winter Meetings kick off this weekend.
On Tuesday afternoon, general manager Ross Atkins spoke to members of the media and had some interesting comments about major topics including Bo Bichette, Alek Manoah, Shohei Ohtani, and Juan Soto. Let’s go through the important stuff…
About Bo Bichette:
In recent times, Bichette’s name has been circulated as a potential trade candidate for both the Chicago Cubs and the Los Angeles Dodgers. This is in part because the Blue Jays would just answer the phone and presumably hang up when Bichette’s and Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s names were mentioned. However, it seems as if teams are just looking to upgrade via trade because of how weak the free agency class is.
On Tuesday, Atkins didn’t really put an end to the Bichette rumours, as he acknowledged the weak free agent class leading to such discussions, said that the Blue Jays are happy to have Bichette currently, but also said “there’s something to that” in regards to the speculation. There’s no doubt some trade talks have happened, but it’s hard to say how far they got.
About Shohei Ohtani:
Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. It’s evident that the Blue Jays have an interest in the generational talent, as all reputable publications have linked Toronto to the two-way player.
Atkins didn’t say much, being quoted as saying, “We have an incredible opportunity here. The city, the country, the support of ownership, the winning environment, the renovations that have occurred. We have incredible opportunities with the economy and the diversity and the strength of this city that is celebrated by a country”.
Now, that doesn’t really say much, but the fact that Atkins neither denied nor confirmed interest leads me to believe it is a negotiation tactic. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Jays have a real shot at signing Ohtani, though it’s hard not to see the L.A. Dodgers as the destination.
About Juan Soto:
It’s well known that Juan Soto will likely be traded due to the San Diego Padres’ financial issues. Atkins gave a better quote in regards to Soto, basically saying that they’re opening to trading for rental players, but there’s some more urgency than in years prior (but they don’t want to destroy the future.)
Like Ohtani, Soto would be a massive get for the Jays. Last season with the Padres, he slashed .275/.410/.519 with a career-high 35 home runs in 708 plate appearances, along with a higher BB% (18.6%) than K% (18.2%). If they miss out on Ohtani, maybe they’ll be comfortable allocating the money they had set aside for him to trade for and signing Soto instead.
About Alek Manoah:
As you know, Alek Manoah had a tough season in 2023, posting a 5.87 ERA and a 6.01 FIP in 87.1 innings pitched in 19 games. His K% dropped from 22.9% to 19%, while his BB% increased from 6.5% to 14.2%. All this was after finishing third in Cy Young voting in 2022.
Manoah has always been known to be ambitious, and Atkins noted that his goal isn’t to compete for the fifth spot, but for being excellent, presumably pitching like he did in 2021 and 2022. Atkins reiterated his belief in the 25-year-old starter.
The 2024 season will be a big one for Manoah, but if he can pitch as he did in 2022, the Blue Jays have a special rotation.
About the surplus of starters:
I don’t agree that the Blue Jays have a surplus of starting pitching. They have four really good starters, three guys who can compete for the fifth spot, and Ricky Tiedemann. Other than that, the Jays should really be looking to add experienced starters on minor league deals.
However, the general manager of the Blue Jays disagreed, as he stated that the Jays could trade from the surplus of starters.
The only starter I could see being moved is Yusei Kikuchi after a strong season. He’ll become a free agent after the 2024 season is up, but I wouldn’t say this is likely.
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