Blue Jays pursue ‘group of players’ to strengthen roster

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TORONTO – Once a regular target for Scott Boras’ biting beards, the Toronto Blue Jays are now lauded by the sport’s most powerful agent for their aggressive posture in the market.
Speaking during his annual media availability on Tuesday, held this year via Zoom instead of a hotel lobby at the end of the winter meetings, Boras delivered his usual entertaining line of zingers, metaphors and analogies in a 90-minute question-and-answer period.

He praised Steve Cohen on buying the New York Mets for giving the team “a property with big apples”; he said on signing wide receiver James McCann to a four-year, $ 40.6 million contract, they “didn’t let anyone else eat their lunch, they went out and got a Big Mac”; and by hiring Jared Porter as the new GM, they “didn’t go out looking for the Hamburglar, they got themselves a Porterhouse.” ”

Client Jackie Bradley Jr. has been described as the “PBJ of the major leagues – he’s kind, sweet and spreads it all over and covers it well.” And Boras reacted to the Los Angeles Angels hiring Perry Minasian by saying, “They’ve got to solve the lost playoff case, they came out and got their Perry Mason.”

Major League Baseball jabs included: a review of the length of the 2020 season; a criticism of the foot drag around the universal designate hitter’s extension to next year; valid points on the need to expand the rosters for pitchers to get through a healthy 2021; and an intriguing suggestion that a GM be hired under Rob Manfred to focus on running the game itself, a notion that included a thinly veiled shadow in the commissioner.

As for the Blue Jays, who resumed doing business with Boras last offseason by signing Hyun-Jin Ryu for $ 80million over four years and this summer giving first-round Austin Martin a signing bonus of franchise record of $ 7,000,825 was all love.

Two years after suggesting that the franchise had contracted ‘blue flu’, which caused them sickly behavior in the market, Boras said: ‘They were ready and able to go through the offseason, and this year they are. capable and assertive about what they want to achieve. finished. ”

“I think they really feel the time is right for them, and I have already said that they built the lamp and are now looking for the right bulbs,” he continued. “I think they’re looking for a group of players who they think can be additions to the core they’ve built, and I think they’re very confident that these additions will take them to levels to which they have not been. for a while. ”

While other agents have said similar things in private this winter, Boras’s comments offer the players’ first public confirmation of the club’s aggressive pursuit of players this offseason.

The Blue Jays have been engaged with all of the best free agents in the game, including George Springer, DJ LeMahieu, JT Realmuto and Trevor Bauer, but have also explored options on different levels. Boras doesn’t control the market like he did in the offseason when he traded over $ 1 billion in contracts, but has a handful of players on the Blue Jays’ radar, including reliever Bradley Jr. Trevor Rosenthal and Canadian starter James Paxton. .

The Ladner, B.C. southpaw finished the season on the injured list with a flexor strain in his forearm after returning from back surgery, and now “he’s deep in the bullpens and throwing bullpens for some teams, ”Boras said. “Obviously he wasn’t fully rehabilitated when he tried to help his club and come back (in September). We have regained his back 100% strength and he’s back throwing himself off the mound and doing well.

As for when the market will start to move, Boras suggested the majority of winter activities might not start until January, with some teams operating as usual and others expressing interest in the players pending instructions from the property. .

The Blue Jays, eager to get things done, are somewhat stuck in the mud while waiting for the dominoes to start falling, with general manager Ross Atkins saying last week, “We don’t put our schedule on players for s’ ensure they come back to us. We want to be very respectful of having earned the right of free will, and we are not in a position where we have to.

A mention of the perception that free agents are reluctant to head north was shot down by Boras, who said: “Once the players are exposed to Toronto and they get to know it, it’s obviously a city. very cosmopolitan, it is very well received. . ”

Uncertainty over where the club will play next year after the COVID-19 border closed has forced the team to take refuge in Buffalo “raises player concerns,” Boras conceded, “but the club has been very forthright about its position on this and when it has chosen. and what they think of how that will play out in 2021. ”

“Canada has done a great job in dealing with COVID and, in terms of the decisions their governance makes about what they do with their country, I think we all respect that and the players do too,” he continued. “The good thing about the vaccine and where we’re headed is that the players now have a bottom line. They have the ability to know that this process will be completed in a certain time. … Mark (Shapiro, President and CEO of the Blue Jays) has certainly told me that he has been in contact with the Government of Canada and… they are very encouraged that there is a shorter deadline for the return of baseball to the city.

“Certainly, I think the players understand that the schedule is now more in sight and in the immediate future than something that would be a problem in the long run.

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