TORONTO -- The Blue Jays are not opposed to signing a free agent tied to compensation, but general manager Ross Atkins won't say whether that applies to outfielder Lorenzo Cain.ESPN's Jerry Crasnick reported Tuesday evening that Toronto reached out to Cain's representatives about a possible fit. Atkins declined comment when
TORONTO -- The Blue Jays are not opposed to signing a free agent tied to compensation, but general manager Ross Atkins won't say whether that applies to outfielder Lorenzo Cain.
ESPN's Jerry Crasnick reported Tuesday evening that Toronto reached out to Cain's representatives about a possible fit. Atkins declined comment when asked about the rumor at the General Managers Meetings in Orlando, Fla., but he also did not rule out signing someone who received a qualifying offer.
Under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, Toronto would have to surrender a second-round pick and $500,000 from next year's international bonus pool to sign a free agent tied to compensation. It's a far less prohibitive system than the old one, which would have cost the Blue Jays a first-round selection in the MLB Draft.
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"I think that it's less significant of an issue, but it's definitely something you have to factor in," Atkins told reporters in Orlando. "It's not something that would deter us."
Cain received a $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Royals, but he's expected to decline. He's one of the top free agents available and likely will be seeking at least a four-year deal on the open market. The 31-year-old is coming off a year in which he hit .300 with 15 home runs, 49 RBIs, 26 stolen bases and an .803 OPS.
At first glance, Cain might not appear to be much of a fit in Toronto with Kevin Pillar in center, but in theory the Blue Jays could accommodate Cain rather easily. Following the departure of Jose Bautista, the Blue Jays have openings at each of the corner outfield spots and likely will make at least one addition this offseason.
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Earlier this week, Atkins said Toronto's top priority is adding a versatile infielder who can play multiple positions and possibly even start from time to time in the outfield. The Blue Jays also have Anthony Alford, Teoscar Hernandez, Steve Pearce and Ezequiel Carrera as in-house candidates for the outfield, so it's possible that Cain is more of a backburner-type conversation and the club is just doing its due diligence.
"I don't know where these rumors come from," Atkins told reporters in Orlando when asked about the Cain report. "I mean, no, I can't answer."
The GM Meetings unofficially wrapped up on Wednesday afternoon, and the Blue Jays are still waiting to make their first move of the offseason, but they might not be quiet for long. The deadline for teams to add players to the 40-man roster in advance of next month's Rule 5 Draft is Monday.
Toronto has a large group of prospects who are eligible for this year's Rule 5 Draft. The list includes catchers Max Pentecost, Danny Jansen and Reese McGuire, first baseman Rowdy Tellez, right-hander Conner Greene and left-hander Thomas Pannone. Six players, and the Blue Jays have just four spots open on the 40-man roster. Additional space could be created, but the Blue Jays need room for free agents as well, so not all of the prospects can be protected, and the ones who aren't might be shopped.
The offseason should start picking up soon, but the Blue Jays aren't ready to move quite yet.
"Nothing that's concrete, or tangible, that we're going to come out of here and announce," Atkins said before departing Orlando.
Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.