Blue Jays GM Ross Atkins reiterated his pre-trade deadline strategy Saturday, suggesting the team is open to anything that improves the team in the short term, in the long term or both. He’s not averse to acquiring a rental in the same way he’s looking to be able to get players who have some years of control left.
“We’re considering and talking to teams on both of those fronts,” he said. “There’s an acquisition cost that will be factored in. Typically you pay for control, so that would mean probably giving up more prospect level. Everything’s a balance. We’re not focused on one versus the other.
“We’re focused on winning this year and obviously every team would say that. You just don’t want to compromise your future in how hard you try to do that. We’ll keep those things at the forefront, but we’ll 100% recognize the opportunity that we have in front of us, with a very good team. We’ve been playing very well and hopefully and seemingly peaking at a very good time. We’re going to look to complement the team every day that we wake up.”
First Of Many?
In the wake of the Justin Smoak extension announced Saturday, Atkins said he’ll be feeling out other Blue Jay players with expiring contracts to try to get at least some of them wrapped up before the off-season.
The Blue Jays have eight others with the potential to become free agents and he’d like to get some of them taken care of before the autumn rush.
“That’s part of it,” he said. “We have to get work done. We have a busy off-season ahead of us and we saw this as an opportunity and a short window to see if there was something there. It turned out to be a very efficient process.”
Decision Day Soon
Left-handed reliever Franklin Morales, who went on the DL in April with what was described as a ‘dead arm’, has made seven appearances with Buffalo, pitched seven innings, allowing just one run on four hits and three walks with five strikeouts.
His rehab assignment expires on July 20 and the Jays will have to make a decision on his status at that time.
No Plan Yet
Neither Atkins nor manager John Gibbons is ready to commit to a plan as far as Chris Colabello’s immediate future is concerned. Under suspension for a PED violation, Colabello is eligible to return to play on July 23 but his value to the Jays is muted by the fact he is restricted from playing in the playoffs this year.
“It’s complicated by what the alternatives will be, how he is performing, the fact that he had so much down time, then, secondarily, what that means going forward for someone who is not going to be a part of our playoff roster,” said Atkins.
“What I can tell you is that we are very glad that he is coming back into the fold, as an option, but there is nothing concrete.”
Smoak’s teammates, especially the infielders, were particularly pleased that he has signed an extension for the 2017 and 2018 seasons.
“You like to see guys get rewarded,” said Gibbons.
“He’s been valuable to us, especially as a defender.
“Big wingspan and soft hands, one of the best at picking balls in the dirt. And he can throw. He makes things happen with his arm. He’s not one of those guys always going to take the out at first. He likes to throw it.”
The Blue Jay infield is populated with players with big range and when they’re picking the ball at odd angles, on the run, there is comfort in the fact that Smoak is a reliable, and large, target.
“I take pride in that,” said Smoak. “When there’s a ball in the dirt I expect to catch every single one of them.
“I don’t want them to think they have to throw a perfect strike to me. For their mindset, it’s relaxing to know they can just sling it over and most of the time I’m going to dig it out.”