Blue Jays interested in Hand, Yates, Soria along with big-name pursuits

Sportsnet's Blue Jays Insider Ben Nicholson-Smith joins Sportsnet Central to discuss the Blue Jays losing out on DJ LeMahieu and how the Blue Jays will deal with another player going off the board.

TORONTO – At this point it’s almost too predictable. The Blue Jays show interest in a player, maybe even serious interest, only to see him end up elsewhere.

From Kevin Gausman and Ha-Seong Kim, to Francisco Lindor and Tomoyuki Sugano, to Liam Hendriks and DJ LeMahieu, the list goes on. But eventually that pattern will have to end if the Blue Jays are going to deliver on their stated intention to improve their roster considerably — and to that end the front office continues expressing interest in a wide range of players.

The team’s interest in the players atop the market has been well documented. George Springer, J.T. Realmuto and Trevor Bauer are all of interest to the Blue Jays, and each would help the team considerably, albeit in very different ways. All three appear to remain in play, but alongside those efforts the club has been expressing interest in some less heralded free agents, according to industry sources.

On the relief front, Brad Hand remains of interest to the Blue Jays, who have yet to add to their bullpen this winter (they non-tendered and re-signed A.J. Cole, but have lost Ken Giles and Anthony Bass). Though any team could have claimed Hand for $10 million in October, that was before many teams had set their budgets. Months later, the left-hander seems likely to sign for more than $10 million total with Blake Treinen’s two-year, $17.5 million deal one potential point of reference.

The Blue Jays have also shown real interest in Kirby Yates, who had bone chips removed from his elbow last summer and looks like a bounce-back candidate for 2021. But – maybe you’ve heard this before — the Blue Jays aren’t considered frontrunners despite their pursuit.

Another reliever in whom they’ve shown interest is Joakim Soria, who posted a 2.82 ERA with 24 strikeouts compared to 10 walks in 22.1 innings for Oakland last year. To this point, talks haven’t been serious on that front.

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Beyond the bullpen, the Blue Jays have been active in the market for starting pitching. Jake Odorizzi is on the team’s radar, just as he was a year ago. And – brace yourself – before Corey Kluber agreed to terms with the Yankees, the Blue Jays were believed to have shown serious interest.

Of course the Blue Jays need position players, too, and with Lindor and LeMahieu now off the market there’s more clarity than before. Not surprisingly, the Blue Jays remain active in the free agent infield market, according to a source with knowledge of their talks.

So far, those discussions haven’t led anywhere concrete, which means there’s a full winter’s worth of work to do with about four weeks remaining before spring training.

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