The Toronto Blue Jays have been quiet but that doesn’t mean they aren’t talking. The team is in discussions with every corner outfielder available in the free-agent market. They are also having dialogue with clubs that have corner outfielders available via trade.
The first-choice options include: Brandon Moss, Michael Saunders, Jay Bruce, Curtis Granderson and Jose Bautista. Chris Coghlan and Angel Pagan are on the call list too, but only in case of desperation.
A source familiar with the Jays’ way of thinking indicates they’re confident they will land one of their preferred options.
More interesting though is how Toronto ranks the available corner outfielders. Sources indicate the Jays have Bautista at the top of their list of remaining performers.
That doesn’t mean the Jays are going to sign Bautista and bring him back. Being able to make the right deal matters.
Remember, Edwin Encarnacion was Toronto’s Plan A at first base/designated hitter, but didn’t accept his market before the team was ready to move on to Plan B (Kendrys Morales).
Bautista was a far cry from Plan A as a corner outfielder for the Jays when the off-season started, but he looks better now that they have further evaluated the other options. As the market has slowly whittled, Bautista has moved to the top.
This negotiation will be a race to acceptance. Will Bautista accept his severely limited market and become willing to take less than the $17.2 million qualifying offer the Jays made in November before the team has to pull the trigger on Plan B?
The Jays can’t afford to add two corner outfielders and improve the bullpen as well. They have to make choices. One source indicated that it’s far more likely the Jays will add one outfielder and solve the other corner using a combination of Melvin Upton, Ezequiel Carrera and Steve Pearce. That would allow them to use their remaining resources for bullpen upgrades.