Blue Jays’ Atkins: ‘Can’t pay enough’ for Sabathia’s intangibles

Toronto Blue Jays' Ross Atkins joins the Jeff Blair Show to discuss future infield depth, free agency options, the current core, and what goes into getting a deal done.

The Toronto Blue Jays were rumoured to have met with veteran pitcher CC Sabathia on Tuesday. However, the team’s general manager, Ross Atkins, steered clear of confirming that report during a conversation on The Jeff Blair Show on Wednesday.

“There’s a lot of meetings so I’d rather not confirm or deny the actual interactions that we have,” he said.

The connections between the Blue Jays and Sabathia are plentiful — both Shapiro and Atkins have longstanding relationships with the left-handed pitcher from their time spent in other MLB markets, and the Blue Jays could likely use a left-handed pitcher to round out their rotation.

“CC is, first and foremost, an incredible human being, incredible professional, remarkable career,” said Atkins. “The impact he’s had on the game, certainly on the Yankees, the Cleveland Indians, Milwaukee Brewers, every person he touches, he’s just one of the better stories, one of the better human beings in baseball.”

Sabathia, 37, has a long and well-decorated resume that includes six all-star nods and a Cy Young Award (2007, while with Cleveland). He also earned ALCS MVP honours in 2009 — the same year he won the World Series with the New York Yankees. But it’s the intangibles that has Atkins singing the free agent’s praises.

“All of those intangibles, you can’t pay enough for,” Atkins said. “You have to be smart because you have to build a team, it’s not just about one person. But I can’t say enough about the impact he has had on the game and could potentially have on the Blue Jays and whether or not that fits for us, time will tell.”

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Here are a few excerpts from the rest of Atkins’ appearance:

On whether the team is leaning towards right- or left-handed pitchers:
“We want the best pitcher. Right-handed, left-handed, I feel that we have a very strong right-handed staff already so left-handed would actually complement. But really it’s going to be just about the best arm available.”

On how many discussions the team has about Josh Donaldson, who can become a free agent after the 2018 season:
“He’s one of the better players in the game, so when rumours happen then every team wants to ensure that they’re not missing out. Most of our discussions will be about extending him. That’s where they are, that’s what we’re focused on, if there is something between the agent and the Toronto Blue Jays that makes sense for him to remain a Toronto Blue Jay. There are often a lot of discussions about the best players in the game and like we’ve said and will continue to say, it’s hard to imagine our team getting better without him on it. But again, we stay open to every potential way to make the organization a better one.”

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