LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The final day of the annual Winter Meetings should be rather eventful for the Blue Jays as they took to add some talent in the Rule 5 Draft but also run the risk of losing one of their better prospects.
Toronto has not lost a player in the Rule 5 Draft since infielder Brad Emaus in 2010 but that might change Thursday morning. The Blue Jays have several players at risk of being selected because of a 40-man roster that had a limited number of open spots.
Catcher Max Pentecost, right-handers Jordan Romano and Andrew Case and left-hander Angel Perdomo are among the possible candidates who might be swept up. That would be a blow to Toronto's depth but general manager Ross Atkins also believes potential interest is a testament to how much his Minor League system has developed over the past year.
"It's one of the downsides of your system improving, but it's a good sign when other teams are recognizing that value," Atkins said. "It's not a matter of not wanting to protect Player X, it's more about deciding who to ultimately protect. We wish we could protect a lot more than the five that we did."
Toronto has made a selection during each of the last two Rule 5 Drafts. Two years ago, right-hander Joe Biagini became a surprise success story as he made the team out of Spring Training and turned into a prominent reliever. Last year wasn't as successful, with right-hander Glenn Sparkman getting hurt in Spring Training and later being returned to the Royals' organization.
If the Blue Jays add someone through the Rule 5 Draft this year it would likely be a reliever. Toronto could target a Minor League starter it feels could transition to the bullpen for at least the upcoming season. Teams pay $100,000 to make a selection in the Draft but that player must be kept on the big league roster all season or be offered back to his original team for $50,000.
"We'll definitely be active because we are working around the clock on our alternatives and understanding what could be there," Atkins said. "We'll see what's there when we pick."
Toronto has the 12th overall selection.
The Blue Jays are expected to leave the Winter Meetings on Thursday afternoon without having pulled off a deal outside of the Rule 5 Draft, but it might not take much longer for the dominos to start falling. Atkins suggested on Wednesday afternoon that Toronto could make a couple of moves before the league pauses for the holidays.
Yelich on the block
If the Marlins continue selling off their top assets in the coming weeks, there's a good chance they would look to deal outfielder Christian Yelich, and the Blue Jays would undoubtedly be interested. The problem is the asking price, which is believed to be likely prohibitive for Toronto.
There was some speculation Wednesday about a package centered around shortstop prospect Bo Bichette. Even if Toronto was willing to consider that, the Marlins are expected to want a lot more and it doesn't seem all that realistic the Blue Jays can justify the cost. With five years of control and $58 million remaining on his contract, Yelich is a bargain and that's one reason why the Marlins will net a huge return. Toronto's top prospect (per MLBPipeline.om) Vladimir Guerrero Jr., isn't going anywhere.
"Yelich is an incredible player and would complement any Major League team exceptionally well," Atkins said. "There aren't many Major League teams that wouldn't have interest in him. A young, controllable asset, youth, speed, defense, versatility, bat, any outfield position, incredibly attractive. He also would cost a lot."