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Atkins seeking 'established’ rotation veterans, but it won't be Cole or Strasburg

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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — As baseball executives filtered into the Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Montelucia on Monday, most of the talk surrounded the expensive pursuits of aces Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg.

Those are two names Toronto Blue Jays GM Ross Atkins will not be in on.

There’s an argument to be made that the Jays should be interested, but let’s be real here: Cole and Strasburg won’t be open to a trek north of the border and a cross-your-fingers rebuild, or be able to turn away from the allure of home in California and interest from baseball blue bloods like the New York Yankees.

That’s just reality.

An elite free agent will be drawn to Toronto someday, but today is not that day. Not these guys.

But unlike the past two winters, Atkins has promised to be active and there seems to be proof of that, as multiple people across baseball have already indicated that’s the case based on their early groundwork this month.

Atkins feels a cleaned-out clubhouse and names like Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette and Cavan Biggio are starting to give the Jays a pretty good conversation starter when it comes to their pitch to free agents.

“As important as the talent on the field that showed very well in the second half, is the environment that we have is what we feel is a special one,” Atkins said. “We’re not where we need to be yet because it needs to be much higher on the wins than the losses, and we feel that the free agents and potential acquisitions that we’re talking to, we’re talking to about improving that environment and making it even better.

“The other things are strategic things that we’d rather not share, even it’s a very small thing that’s in the form of recruiting.”

Atkins will have to prove to a frustrated fan base that........