However, Atkins made it clear he isn’t angling to move them despite an apparent rebuild and the fact that all three players have just two more seasons of club control before they can become free agents for the 2021 campaign.
“Our strategy right now with those names is to help them be the best that they can be,” Atkins said during an interview Friday on The Jeff Blair Show on Sportsnet 590 The Fan.
“Now having said that … you can never not consider an opportunity that comes to us. But we don’t feel it’s in our interest — or in the players’ best interest — to market a player that is that elite, and of that calibre and has meant so much to this organization.”
The Blue Jays (46-55) sit in fourth place in the American League East, 23.5 games behind the Boston Red Sox. Atkins unloaded veteran pitchers J.A. Happ and Seunghwan Oh in separate trades with the New York Yankees and Colorado Rockies on Thursday.
Four position players were acquired in return, including infielder Brandon Drury who has joined the big club off the Yankees roster.
Along with Drury, the Jays obtained outfield prospect Billy McKinney. Although he’s reporting to triple-A Buffalo, Atkins sees him as an eventual major-leaguer because of his average or above average tools.
“It really does increase the likelihood of him contributing in some significant way,” Atkins said.
Along with the infusion of position players to the pipeline, the Blue Jays’ best prospects such as Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette and Danny Jansen are also bat swingers.
As a result, Atkins said pitching could become a priority in future trades – as long as it isn’t at the expense of a more talented player being offered.
“We’re getting to the point where we’re so strong on the position player side … now the pendulum has shifted a bit with our focus where we may be looking to acquire pitching when it’s just close, not necessary breaking a tie,” he said.
Listen to the full interview below.