According to Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins, the team speaks with Excel Sports Management — the group that represents those three players, as well as Masahiro Tanaka, Taijuan Walker, Didi Gregorius and others — “at least once a week.”
“Like any other agency that’s representing, they have several free agents,” Atkins said, staying vague, when asked how often he speaks to Springer’s agency during an interview on Tim and Sid Thursday. “(Excel) have a pretty good group of free agents this year so we’ve had pretty consistent contact with that group.”
While any of those players would be a significant upgrade for the Jays, the team does have familiarity with one of them, Walker, who was acquired by Toronto at the trade deadline and pitched well down the stretch as the team secured a playoff spot.
Walker told Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith in October that he would be open to a reunion. But when asked about that relationship Thursday, Atkins declined to tip his hand on any of the pitchers on the open market.
“Taijuan’s a free agent; there are many free agent pitchers that we’re talking to and will continue to,” Atkins said. “Anyone of that calibre, we certainly want to understand where they are, what their interest level might be with us. We’ll continue to canvas that market for sure.”
While the off-season has been slow so far, the annual Winter Meetings begin next week which could spark more moves. This year’s edition will be virtual, but Atkins believes existing relationships will lead to some player movement.
“I’m glad this will be (his fifth off-season in Toronto). We understand the rhythms together, other teams understand how we operate, we have different levels of trust with different agencies and have earned some of that over the years,” Atkins said. “That makes it feel like we’ll be able to do the business that we need to do.”