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Atkins: Blue Jays looking to 'complement' OF

Bruce no longer option, but his deal with Mets could be indicator of market
MLB.com @gregorMLB

TORONTO -- The Blue Jays remain in the market for another outfielder, but Jay Bruce is one name that finally can be scratched off their list of potential targets.

Bruce was taken off the market on Wednesday evening when he agreed to a three-year deal worth $39 million with the Mets, according to a source. That will put an end to the frequently mentioned Bruce-to-Toronto rumors that had been circling since a trade before the 2016 season fell apart at the last minute.

TORONTO -- The Blue Jays remain in the market for another outfielder, but Jay Bruce is one name that finally can be scratched off their list of potential targets.

Bruce was taken off the market on Wednesday evening when he agreed to a three-year deal worth $39 million with the Mets, according to a source. That will put an end to the frequently mentioned Bruce-to-Toronto rumors that had been circling since a trade before the 2016 season fell apart at the last minute.

The Bruce signing takes one big bat off the board, but the reported terms of the deal could prove quite favorable for the Blue Jays. Bruce's agents reportedly began the offseason by seeking a five-year deal worth upwards of $90 million, but his new deal fell short of that and should be a good indicator of the market.

Video: Bruce agrees to terms on three-year deal with Mets

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J.D. Martinez remains an unrealistic target, but Lorenzo Cain, Carlos Gonzalez and Carlos Gomez are among those who are also unsigned, while others such as Josh Harrison, Jason Kipnis and Christian Yelich are expected to be available through trade. Will some of the asking prices drop following the Bruce deal? Time will tell.

"That will be one of the things we look to fill, one of the holes we look to fill, to complement our outfielders," Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins said earlier this week. "We also feel like we have a very good group that could potentially be in Triple-A. We feel like we could start the season with the outfielders that we have, but we will definitely look to see if there is a way to upgrade or complement our outfield."

The Blue Jays have a lot of options in the outfield, but there's also a pair of glaring holes at the corners that would benefit from an upgrade. Kevin Pillar is locked into the starting job in center field, and Teoscar Hernandez is an early favorite to win one of the other jobs. But after that, the club has a lot of question marks.

Prospect Anthony Alford would be best served by starting the year in the Minor Leagues. Ezequiel Carrera has to be considered a part-time player, and Steve Pearce is better utilized in a platoon rather than a full-time role. For a team that finished last year with the fewest runs scored in the American League, this is the most obvious spot on the roster to upgrade, and it should be the easiest area to address.

Yelich represents everything the Blue Jays are looking for, and Atkins has publicly confirmed an interest, but a deal with the Marlins still seems a little far-fetched. Toronto remains hesitant to part with core pieces of its future -- such as top prospects Bo Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. -- and with so many other teams in the mix, the final asking price likely isn't that realistic for the Blue Jays.

"Here's what I could say on a player like Christian Yelich: All 30 teams are in, so it's not up to the Blue Jays on whether or not we get him," Atkins told the Fan 590 radio station in Toronto on Wednesday.

"We'll do what we can. We are definitely going to do everything we can to consider how we can make our team better in any possible way. And as you know, and as relates to players that are with other teams, there's only so much I can say. But Christian Yelich is a remarkable talent, and he's going to impact the Marlins or whoever he's playing for in a significant way. So we'll see."

Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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