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AL East Notes: Blue Jays, Catchers, Rays, McKay, Red Sox, Cora

The Blue Jays are prepared to make impact moves this offseason, but they’re also preaching patience, per Shi Davidi of If they do make a move early – beyond what they’ve done so far – GM Ross Atkins thinks it will be a significant one. Per Ben Nicholson-Smith of, Atkins said, “If we were to move earlier, the impact would be significant. And that doesn’t take us out of significant impact later.” If you’re sensing a theme, you’re not imagining it: The Jays are dreaming big this winter. One of the biggest names available is catcher J.T. Realmuto. The former Phillie would fit the mold described above, but Atkins also says they are “extremely satisfied” with Toronto’s catching situation. And why shouldn’t they be? With Danny Jansen, Reese McGuire and Alejandro Kirk all contributing at the big-league level, they have affordable depth and upside in the form of Kirk, who hit .375/.400/.583 in a 24-at-bat cup-of-coffee in 2020. Still, that depth can be repurposed to make room for a star like Realmuto, especially in the American League where the DH provides opportunity for diversified playing time.

  • Southpaw Brendan McKay remains in Baseball America’s list of top-10 Rays prospects, but J.J. Cooper sounds concerned about McKay’s ability to recover from shoulder surgery on Kyle Glaser’s Baseball America podcast. Cooper notes that Hyun Jin Ryu took about three years to really return to form after a similar surgery. All that said, it’s telling that McKay remains at number six on the list. Until he begins his return and something new emerges, the only confirmed change for McKay is his timeline and his risk profile. The upside that made McKay a top prospect in the first place remains.
  • Red Sox Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom was given full discretion to make the final hiring decision for the Red Sox managerial opening this offseason. Bringing back Alex Cora wasn’t money in the bank, as it might seem, writes Alex Speier of the Boston Globe. The assumption would be that Bloom had the final say-so, but given the unique nature of Cora’s return, and the fact that Bloom didn’t hire Cora the first time around, it would be fair to wonder how much ownership weighed in on the decision. The idea to interview Cora at all, however, was Bloom’s, per Dan Shaughnessy of the Boston Globe. Bloom and general manager Brian O’Halloran met with Cora in an “empty hangar on the airport tarmac.” It was an exhausting but thorough interview by the accounts of those involved, and it didn’t seal the deal. That interview simply entered Cora into the field. Bloom and O’Halloran kept ownership and their assistant general managers involved in the process throughout, but ultimately the decision was left to Bloom, who went with Cora over the Phillies’ integrative baseball performance director Sam Fuld.  Definitely read Speier’s piece for the full account.
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