AL East: A mid-term front office assessment of all five teams

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 08: New York Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman speaks to the media prior to the start of the game against the Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium on April 08, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 08: New York Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman speaks to the media prior to the start of the game against the Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium on April 08, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images) /
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Raimel Tapia. Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports
Raimel Tapia. Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports /

3. Toronto Blue Jays front office -0.3

With his Blue Jays a popular pick to make a run at the AL East this season, Atkins labored intensely to upgrade the team’s personnel this winter and spring. The big acquisition was the trade with Oakland that brought in Matt Chapman to play third base at a cost of minor leaguers and fringe players.

But Chapman has been only a modest upgrade, entering July batting .223. He does have 11 home runs and that power has translated to a modestly positive +0.5 WAA. But it has not (not yet anyway) made the acquisition of Chapman one of Atkins’ more impactful moves this season.

The moves Atkins has made – there have been 31 of them – haven’t collectively moved the team needle. They amount to -0.3 games of WAA. Only 10 of the 31 moves produced positive value to the Jays, while a dozen turned negative and a startling nine generated neutral value. Here are the five most impactful.

March 24: Atkins’ two most impactful moves occurred simultaneously. The Jays acquired outfielder Raimel Tapia and a minor leaguer from the Colorado Rockies in exchange for outfielder Randall Grichuk. Tapia has rotated among all three outfield positions, and his .260 batting average is nothing to sneeze at. But he lacks power, has only drawn eight walks, and as a result his OPS is an anemic .651. That makes his impact on the team -1.5 WAA.

Grichuk, meanwhile, has been a reasonably productive player in Colorado. The averages are virtually identical – Grichuk is batting .259 – but he has eight homers, a dozen walks and a .701 OPS. That puts Grichuk’s value to the Rockies at +1.1 WAA, a black mark against Atkins.

March 14: Atkins signed a three-year, $36 million deal with free agent pitcher Yusei Kikuchi, who was coming off a 7-9, 4.41 ERA season in Seattle. Through 15 starts with the Jays, Kikuchi is 3-4 with a 4.74 ERA and a -1.0 WAA.

Nov. 3: The Jays let outfielder Corey Dickerson walk away to free agency. Following the conclusion of the lockout, Dickerson found work in St. Louis. But in a backrup role he is hitting just .194 with two homers and a -0.9 WAA, making Atkins look smart for letting him go.

Nov. 3: Steven Matz also became a free agent on Nov. 3, leaving behind a 14-7 season with the Jays in which he made 29 starts and pitched 150 innings. The Cardinals also signed Matz, and with as little success as Dickerson. Through nine starts he’s 3-3 but with a 6.03 ERA and -0.8 WAA. He’s now on the injured list.