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Atkins confident in options after GM Meetings

MLB.com @gregorMLB

TORONTO -- Ross Atkins departed the General Managers Meetings on Thursday afternoon without any moves to show for his time in California. But he was confident that the appropriate groundwork had been put in place to get the process started.

Atkins hinted on Wednesday that the Blue Jays were potentially closing in on their first acquisition of the offseason. He somewhat downplayed that assessment during a scrum with reporters Thursday, but it does seem as though headway was made.

TORONTO -- Ross Atkins departed the General Managers Meetings on Thursday afternoon without any moves to show for his time in California. But he was confident that the appropriate groundwork had been put in place to get the process started.

Atkins hinted on Wednesday that the Blue Jays were potentially closing in on their first acquisition of the offseason. He somewhat downplayed that assessment during a scrum with reporters Thursday, but it does seem as though headway was made.

Historically, the GM Meetings don't result in a lot of transactions. Seattle and Tampa Bay were among the teams active at this year's gathering, but most organizations use this time to gather information and start mapping out their next moves. More than anything, the meetings are a prelude to next month's annual Winter Meetings in Las Vegas.

"We touched base with everyone that we set out to touch base with, and just about everyone that has the potential to make our team be better, and feel like we have a great deal of information that we didn't have four days ago," Atkins said.

The Blue Jays have quite a bit of flexibility in their search for pitching. Toronto has to plug a couple of holes in its starting rotation, and at least a couple more in the bullpen, but it has the resources and prospect capital to get it done in a number of ways.

Toronto is currently assessing the free-agent market for starting pitchers. The Blue Jays have expressed an interest in a reunion with veteran lefty J.A. Happ and the club is expected to monitor a secondary group of starters, which includes the likes of Trevor Cahill, Drew Pomeranz and Garrett Richards.

Video: Chisholm on Blue Jays' interest in a J.A. Happ return

The Blue Jays also have excess pieces on the 40-man roster they intend to shop. Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Aledmys Diaz, Brandon Drury and Devon Travis are in the mix for three starting infield jobs, and that's before factoring in a late-April promotion for Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and the possible return of Troy Tulowitzki. Richard Urena offers additional depth as a utility infield option.

"We do need to add pitching on some level and some way," Atkins told reporters. "So I could see a scenario where we go through the offseason, make no trades, and only acquire pitching in free agency. I can also see a scenario where there's an opportunity to acquire pitching via trade.

"What excites us is to match up more pitching with that young Double-A, Triple-A and just-now-transitioning group to the Major Leagues. If we can add to Sean Reid-Foley and Ryan Borucki and obviously Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez, if there's a way to add to that group, then that's really exciting. If that starts to line up, then that competitive window is fun to think about."

New eyes on Teoscar
The Blue Jays have yet to name a replacement for the recently dismissed first-base coach Tim Leiper, but whoever the lucky candidate ends up being will be tasked with working with Teoscar Hernandez on his outfield defense.

Hernandez regressed in the field this year, committing defensive miscues that appeared to be as much mental as they were physical. The 26-year-old often had trouble reading the ball off the bat and even dropped several routine catches in left.

The Dominican native made eight errors and finished with -16 Defensive Runs Saved, which was third lowest among AL outfielders. Toronto can't live with that type of performance much longer, but the club hasn't given up on Hernandez's potential quite yet. The Blue Jays will task the new coach with coming in and trying to implement some new approaches.

"That will be a priority for us this offseason," Atkins said when asked about Hernandez's defense. "I've talked to his agent about it. I've talked to Teoscar about it. Teoscar is one of the hardest working guys we have, so it's a great opportunity."

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

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