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$80 million brings Atkins and Blue Jays more than just an ace

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For the price of one top-of-the-rotation starter, Ross Atkins also bought a change in perception.

Seen from the outside as a front office regime brought in to keep costs controlled and, potentially, stumble into contention every once in a while, wins were few and far between for Atkins and the Toronto Blue Jays through his first four years on the job – both on the field and in the public eye.

After a couple of quiet, cost-cutting off-seasons, stories of the Blue Jays being aggressive in free agency from the outset this winter were met with eye rolls and a more than fair wait-and-see attitude.

That all changed late Sunday night when the Jays and left-handed starter Hyun-Jin Ryu, one of the premier arms on the free-agent market, agreed to terms on a four-year, $80-million deal, a source confirmed.

One important detail in the contract is it does not contain any opt-outs, per sources, and there is a limited no-trade clause as well.

It’s by far the largest investment Atkins has made in a player, surpassing the three-year, $33-million deal he handed Kendrys Morales in the winter of 2016, and it’s also the second-largest total value free-agent contract in franchise history, just behind the $82.5 million deal Russell Martin signed in 2014.

When it comes to pitchers, it’s reminiscent of........