Mitchell: Despite border challenges, Charlie Montoyo confident on Toronto Blue Jays free agent field

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TORONTO – Actually, whether you’re Brian Cashman, Perry Minasian, or Ross Atkins, the most important part of the pitch is always the same.

Money and term.

For every free agent, the conversation begins and ends with Benjamins and long-term safety.

An extra year or a few more millions can usually be the divider between a deal made or not, and there is recent evidence that the Toronto Blue Jays have gone the extra mile to secure Hyun-Jin Ryu’s services a long time ago. year.

From there, however, each free agent’s case and priorities are very personal.

Some will be wooed by Cashman’s offering of stripes and the New York backdrop, while Minasian, the general manager of the freshman Los Angeles Angels and a former follower of Alex Anthopoulos in Toronto and Atlanta, may enjoy a laid-back California lifestyle and a partnership with Mike Trout. like carrots.

Often times geography, weather, taxes, schools, and many other family considerations are deciding factors when it comes to free agents making a final decision between multiple market value offers.

It is interesting for both sides to strike a deal, but at the end of the day, it is the player who decides where they want to work.

For Atkins, manager Charlie Montoyo and the Jays, the biggest asset is clear: a roster filled with young talent.

“They see it like everyone else,” Montoyo said on a Zoom call on Friday, describing the ground the organization has given players and agents since the free agency opened last month. “They get excited when they talk to us because they know we have a chance to be really good.”

Aside from that obvious starting point when talking to high-end free agents like George Springer and DJ LeMahieu, the terrain becomes interesting from there.

The two long-standing accounts of players not wanting to cross the Canadian border and the challenge of competing with the LA East’s deep-pocketed teams remain to some extent, but these questions have changed over time, particularly in the strange world which is 2020.

While Cashman may point to Yankee Stadium and ask Human Resources to look into lavish condo options on the Upper East Side, the Jays’ short-term terrain has become very complicated by the pandemic.

If an open border has created unrecognizable issues for free agents in the past, a closed border and the issues that may present it certainly do too.

“The first question is, are we going to play in Toronto, and that’s right?” Said Montoyo. “Our answer is, ‘Yeah, we hope we’ll play in Toronto.’ Then they also ask about the border, their families and everything.

The problem, however, is that there really isn’t a concrete answer and won’t be until March, long after most free agents have made their decisions.

Some players may look beyond that as a short term issue.

On the other hand, a few may exclude it entirely when uncertainty in Toronto is weighed against certainty elsewhere.

“When I’m on these calls and I listen to Mark [Shapiro] and Ross talks, it’s exciting, ”Montoyo said. “I love their honesty, the way they talk about Toronto, the people, the diversity of our city, the greatness of the city. People think it’s hard to cross the border and everything, but you get the NEXUS card, as you know it’s not that hard. Because this question arises, how is the border and how difficult it is to get there.

Earlier this week, the game’s most powerful agent, Scott Boras, spoke about how he advises his clients to see one of the most active teams in a very slow free agent market.

Boras – with commission and the value of market competition in mind, of course – shows the light at the end of the tunnel.

“Obviously with the situation with COVID and the government and having to play somewhere other than Toronto it raises concerns from the players, but the club have been very outspoken about their position on this and when chosen and what he thinks of it, how it will unfold in 2021, ”Boras said. “Canada has done a great job with managing COVID. When it comes to the decisions their government makes about what to do with their country, I think we all respect that and the players do as well. I think the good thing about the vaccine and where we’re headed is that players now have the ability to know that this process will be over in a while.

“The really knowledgeable people who can answer this question are that Mark [Shapiro] told me he was in close contact with the Government of Canada, what his process was and where he was going. They were very encouraged that there is a shorter time frame for baseball to return to town and certainly I think the players understand that the time frame is now more in the spotlight than anything. that will be a long term problem.

After being the only team to give Ryu a fourth year, then handing General Austin Martin’s fifth pick a franchise record, signing bonus above the slot, the Jays’ relationship with Boras n has never been so good.

It comes down to the money talking for free agents.

With a window of contention now fully open and Rogers seemingly one of the few ownership groups around baseball ready and willing to spend, agents are going to say nice things about Toronto, the Jays and maybe even the Leafs though. that’s what it takes to get. the best offer for their customers.

Whether the Jays will improve this winter remains to be seen, but it is impossible to question their willingness to do so.

Despite all the uncertainty surrounding Toronto from a pandemic standpoint, an unscientific survey of a small sample of those in the game finds that a ready-to-win roster and a slightly above-market offer is the perfect cocktail for allay those concerns.

“They really feel the time is right for them,” Boras said. “I said before that they built the lamp and are now looking for the right bulbs. I think they’re looking for a bunch of players who they think can be additions to the core they’ve built. I think they’re very confident that these additions will take them to levels they haven’t been in quite some time.

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