LAS VEGAS – There is always a certain amount of stance in the public statements of baseball officials, particularly when it comes to the future of players who may be ready for trade. During winter meetings, especially, taking everything that is said with a grain of salt is highly recommended.
What is important to follow, however, is how the discourse around a specific situation changes over time because the changes are occurring. And the way the business talk around Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez has evolved since the General Managers Meetings a month ago – when Ross Atkins unequivocally said "no one likes Marcus more than we do, we value him the most" – an agreement for one of them at least suddenly seems much more tangible.
Consider that on Monday, when asked if other teams were beginning to value the two ace caliber players in a more similar fashion to the Blue Jays, Atkins replied: "I would say it's fair."
"As you begin to understand in terms of the discussions you are having and the offers that are made, or even just talking about comparable trades, then you start it makes more sense to have ongoing discussions.The likelihood of these guys being moved is not high.We just have to have fun if there is a way to improve the organization. "
This is a significant shift in tenor, and a rapidly changing market can easily accelerate progress on that front.
Ben Nicholson-Smith and Arden Zwelling take fans into the Blue Jays and MLB with news, analysis and interviews.
The catalyst here may have been the $ 140 million deal made by Patrick Corbin of the Washington Nationals last week, taking a major high-end market option, while increasing the floor for lefty Dallas Keuchel. Nathan Eovaldi's $ 68 million, four-year contract with the Boston Red Sox also eliminated the best top-level turnaround.
Contenders who need impact now can choose between Keuchel, a veteran like J.A. Happ or trying to get one of Cleveland's aces Corey Kluber or Trevor Bauer via trade. Everything will be very expensive in dollars or venture capital, which makes Stroman and Sanchez, economic talents just enter the peak years with two seasons of club control, intriguing alternatives.
There is "significant interest" in both, said Atkins, who made it clear that the Blue Jays are immersed enough in the offseason period to discover who is legitimately interested in their players.
"Now it's just determining how interested," he said. "In terms of what it would take (to negotiate Stroman or Sanchez), there is an objective equation for this and the return of talent. So that's how it aligns with your needs. The short answer is that it would need to be a fair deal. It would mean that we are getting talent in return that we feel fair for the talent that would be coming out. This is the case for any player. "
There is no agreement now. But it seems there is a way to get there.
A rival executive who spoke to Blue Jays does not believe they are actively buying, but they were actively listening, while another said he could easily see them trading one of the right-handed players this winter.
The challenge in any negotiation is that the Blue Jays are already dangerously thin on the spin and that they do not have a similar high ceiling arm due to the impending arrival of the farming system. They could spend the next few years trying to replicate the kind of impact they've both had on the big league level, which is why trying to extend them also makes sense.
Atkins offered little on that front "out of respect for any negotiation, getting too public with that is very sensitive." But he noted that an extension is "a two-way street" and "there are many parties involved in that decision."
The implication of this is that Stroman went to an arbitration hearing in each of the past two seasons, while Sanchez is represented by Scott Boras, who usually tends to take his players to the market.
So, exchanging the best of what they have is a consideration even when they focus on adding more pitches.
Some other news and notes were collected while browsing the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino:
• Blue Jays met with five agencies – including Paul Cohen, Troy Tulowtizki's agent – and five teams to talk about trade in their Delano hotel suite at the Mandalay Bay resort. After saying last week that it was "unlikely", Tulowitzki could contribute at an above-average level to 140 games, all Atkins offered in his shortstop is that "he's in an incredible state, he feels good physically, he looks great" moving well then all positive signs . "
• The Blue Jays have attracted interest in their capture, including Russell Martin, who is expected to receive $ 20 million in 2019. A veteran rival executive believes Martin's contract is mobile because "he can still play and help someone. The question is whether the Blue Jays will get back enough. "After noticing how much the Blue Jays like and appreciate the 36-year-old man, Atkins added," we would consider some opportunity if there was one to move it by talent that made sense to the organization. " The key term is "for talent". If Blue Jays eat a substantial amount of money, they want some level of perspective in return.
• A rival executive described Blue Jays closer to Ken Giles as "available." The right-back was 14-to-14 in the conversion after passing through Houston as part of Roberto Osuna's return and has two years of remaining control. Your market may not develop until some of the free market liberating agents begin to come off the board.
• Unsurprisingly, Atkins said bullpen filling will be left until later in the offseason period because "we'd rather have total flexibility to know what our opening front pitch opportunities will be before we are aggressive with the relievers." The Blue Jays did a good job of finding kinds of value rebuilding last season by adding Seunghwan Oh, John Axford and Tyler Clippard during spring training.
• The Blue Jays have two holes to fill their recognition department after the promotions of other teams cost them a pair of valuable members. Chuck LaMar, a major league Olympian, set out for an expanded role at the San Diego Padres, while professional Kevin Fox, who was in charge of Kevin Pillar's selection in the 32nd round of the 2011 draft, joined the Seattle Mariners to work for the international team.
• One agent, spontaneously, to the president and CEO of Blue Jays, Mark Shapiro. "Just give him time. What he's doing will work.