To this point in the off-season, the Toronto Blue Jays have prepared extensively for a wide range of potential moves, without actually adding anyone except Aledmys Diaz.
For fans of the hot stove, it’s been a slow-developing winter, but based on what Ross Atkins said at the Winter Meetings last week, that could change soon.
“It just feels like there’s momentum,” the GM said.
Over the weekend that momentum didn’t immediately lead to action in Toronto, but within the AL East, the Yankees agreed to sign CC Sabathia to a one-year, $10 million deal that strengthens New York’s rotation while taking an intriguing Blue Jays target off the board. Having added Sabathia, the Yankees are now one step closer to completing their off-season shopping.
Throughout the rest of the division, however, major questions surround each team. The Blue Jays, Orioles and Rays are at least listening to offers for franchise third basemen while mulling ways to address their respective needs. The Red Sox, meanwhile, face pressure to add a power bat such as J.D. Martinez now that the Yankees have added reigning NL MVP Giancarlo Stanton. Mitch Moreland, re-signed to a two-year deal Monday, will presumably not be Dave Dombrowski’s big off-season addition.
With less than one week remaining before MLB teams take an unofficial break for the holidays, could we see a flurry of transactions over the next few days? Some agents expect a busy week, while one executive acknowledged that it’s dangerous to make any assumptions in such a “weird market.”
Deadlines typically spur activity in MLB, as evidenced by the annual flurries of moves on July 31 (non-waiver deadline), Aug. 31 (post-season roster deadline) and Dec. 2 (non-tender deadline). While the upcoming holidays represent a soft deadline at best, teams could be motivated to finalize moves before slowing down.
By and large, club executives are too deliberate to rush anything before considering every alternative (that certainly applies to Atkins and the Blue Jays this winter). But by now those executives have had the chance to make sense of the information gathered from agents and rival teams at the Winter Meetings. In theory, that should eventually lead to action.
Granted, there’s an extent to which Scott Boras can slow the off-season down single-handedly. The super-agent often slow-plays the market to great effect, and that could delay the signings of players such as Martinez, Jake Arrieta, Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and Greg Holland. None of Boras’ top-tier free agents appear to be likely Blue Jays targets, although Carlos Gomez might fit their needs and they have some interest in Carlos Gonzalez.
Thankfully for the Blue Jays, though, the outfield market’s deep enough that it doesn’t run through any one team or agent. In fact, ample supply of outfielders and relievers has allowed the Blue Jays to stay in information-gathering mode for longer than usual. But now the infield market has started moving with trades involving potential targets Freddy Galvis and Ian Kinsler. Along those lines, the Sabathia deal weakens a thin class of starting pitchers.
At some point, maybe some point soon, the Blue Jays will determine that it’s time to strike. And once they make one move, the rest of their off-season should start coming into focus quickly.