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Toronto Blue Jays General Manager Ross Atkins met with the media Sunday and discussed the state of the team, how he is looking to improve the major league roster, and a variety of other topics:

1. State of the Trade Market

In his media availability Sunday, Atkins discussed potential improvements to Toronto's MLB roster, identifying run prevention as the organization's primary need.

With the 2021 MLB Draft pushed back to mid-July this season, Atkins said trade talks have been pushed up and are currently ongoing.

While the bullpen is a clear Blue Jays need, the GM said the team has discussed adding in the starting pitching market, but options to improve Toronto's rotation are fewer.

“There’s going to be opportunities for the team to improve in that [bullpen] area," Atkins said. "And there’s a little bit more depth there than in the starting market.”

2. Searching for Bullpen Help

The team is focused on the opportunity to add to the major league pen, Atkins said, and have been looking at RP options even when relievers were a strength of the team at the beginning of the season.

Toronto's GM identified strike-throwing as a big need for this bullpen, and yesterday's acquisition of a high-control guy like Jacob Barnes shows that priority in practice.

On top of the trade market, Atkins said the organization “has to” consider all options to improve the pen, including projected starters Thomas Hatch and Nate Pearson. Atkins later said the team has to balance Pearson and Hatch’s potential impact as a starter against how they can get outs in a pen.

Atkins also said injured arms like Ryan Borucki and Julian Merryweather could both return near the end of June or just after, as both are beginning to throw off a mound.

3. Springer Decision Coming Soon

George Springer left Saturday's rehab start in Triple-A in the fourth inning, but Atkins confirmed this morning it was simply due to the weather conditions in Rochester.

Springer is back in the lineup in Triple-A today, leading off and playing in centerfield.

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“We have a decision with him to make,” Atkins said. "Do we continue that rehab progression or do we have him join the team?"

4. Prospects Getting Attention

Atkins discussed the hot start to 2021 for some of the organization's upper-minors bats, including AA infielder Samad Taylor, catcher Gabriel Moreno, and AAA utility man Kevin Smith.

Only Moreno is currently on Toronto's 40-man roster, but Atkins said Smith is certainly pushing for an opportunity with the Jays in 2021.

“Kevin Smith, his plate discipline and using the whole field," Atkins said. "Everything we’re seeing from him is exceptionally encouraging.”

Atkins said the team has had a few “great stories” across their minor league system this year, also mentioning pitcher Zach Logue, who was recently promoted to Triple-A.

5. Blue Jays Return to Toronto?

The team is optimistic the Jays will be back in Toronto this season, Atkins said.

“Late July would be incredible,” Atkins said. “But a lot to pull off for that to happen and not completely in our control.”

Atkins reiterated team president Mark Shapiro's earlier comments that the organization is in a constant and productive dialogue with levels of government.

Further Reading:

George Springer update: Rehab continues

Watch: Justin Smoak returns home from Japan

8 ways to fix the Blue Jays bullpen