LONGLEY: Gausman deal is the latest sign that Blue Jays brass is synonymous with business

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When 91 wins in 2021 weren’t enough for the Blue Jays to make the playoffs, general manager Ross Atkins and team president Mark Shapiro didn’t even try to hide their angst over the near-crash.

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Over the next eight weeks, the front-office tandem is keeping their promise to do whatever it takes – and whatever Rogers Communications money can buy – to avoid a similar fate in 2022.

An off-season spending spree landed another big deal on Sunday when the Jays struck a five-year, $ 110 million deal with free agent Kevin Gausman.

Coupled with a seven-year, $ 131 million extension granted to Jose Berrios the previous week, the Jays now have one of the most formidable rotations in the American League.

Pair that with an exciting and explosive attack led by stars such as Vlad Guerrero Jr., George Springer, Bo Bichette and Teoscar Hernandez and it’s clear the Jays are heavily invested in a win-now mode.

Not only that, Gausman’s addition is the latest example of how views have changed regarding Toronto’s attractiveness as a free agent market.

Gausman has just completed a year of career with the San Francisco Giants, a year in which the right-hander had a stingy 2.81 ERA on 33 starts and just as importantly, showed the durability of 192 innings.

That form was enough for the Ohio native to be named to the National League All-Star squad and make him, and later, one of the best guns on the market.

The Jays had shown some interest in Gausman last winter, but the 30-year-old opted to accept the Giants’ one-year qualifying offer. In doing so, he did much the same as Cy Young Award-winning Jays free agent Robbie Ray – he bet on himself.

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And now he’s taking it.

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With Gausman in the fold, the Jays now have the potential for a stellar starting rotation with Berrios, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Alek Manoah cementing four solid places. Take into account the possibility of Nate Pearson keeping his promise and the possibilities are intriguing.

Paying big bucks for Gausman continues the recent spending of the Jays, including Berrios and Springer, who signed a six-year, $ 150 million contract last winter.

Zooming in on the big picture, there is a growing sense that Toronto has become a legitimate player in the free agent market and not just because of the money Rogers is willing to spend.

Money is always talking in such pursuits, but it’s just as clear that the buzz surrounding the young offensive core of the Jays is gaining ground around the sport. A report from New York on Sunday suggests Gausman turned down less money from the Mets before agreeing with the Jays.

So what drew Gausman to the Jays? We’ll know for sure when the deal is formalized and the pitcher tells us himself, but joining a group of young players and a strong rotation loaded with locked players for the next hand full of years had to have some appeal.

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And don’t overlook the growing reputation of Jays pitching coach Pete Walker, who certainly played an important role in Ray Cy Young’s groundbreaking campaign.

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Those two realities were factors that drove Berrios to decide on his extension, feelings he described quite eloquently during a press conference at the Rogers Center to announce the deal.

Some players want the money. Some players want to win. And when you can get both in one place, the attraction is real.

With the ABC of baseball expiring Wednesday and a subsequent lockout as a likely outcome, the weekend turned into a free agent frenzy not often seen by the sport. Teams and agents were clearly keen to make deals before the looming stalemate and the urgency led players like Gausman to essentially set an early deadline.

In the past, the Jays should have made their way to the table. As the Gausman, Berrios and Springer agreements have shown, they now have a captive audience.

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