CARLSBAD, Calif. — There’s no secret to what free agents value above all else: Money and the ability to win.

The Toronto Blue Jays are currently offering both, leaving the club in an enviable position for the third straight off-season.

From Hyun Jin Ryu to George Springer and Marcus Semien, the old narrative is dead and the days of the Jays not being able to attract free-agent talent north of the border are gone.

While that doesn’t guarantee them a thing in the marketplace, the vibe surrounding a young and talented group that just won 91 games has shifted in a major way over the last half-decade and the crop of high-end free agents fits this winter are absolutely looking at Toronto as a viable destination once again.

Sometimes the Jays will still have to pay a bit of a premium to get that final signature — a fourth year convinced Ryu, while Springer got six from the Jays when others were offering five — but that can be chalked up as the cost of going toe-to-toe with teams like the Red Sox, Yankees and Dodgers.

As recently as 2019, which was coincidently the last time all 30 general managers got together in a pre-pandemic world like they are this week at the Omni La Costa Resort & Spa just outside San Diego, it sounded foolish to predict the Jays would have the ability to offer huge nine-figure deals, let alone execute them.

Twenty-four months later, not a single agent scoffs when asked about the Jays’ ability and desire to spend.

“I think the energy and excitement around our team in particular has momentum,” Atkins said Tuesday afternoon on a terrace overlooking the resort golf course. “There’s something to that, where the engagement is different. Part of that is certainly our team, where we are as an organization, the past couple of seasons that we’ve had and how others are viewing our talent.”

Agents and players also have a better idea of what this current Blue Jays regime is about.

Now into his seventh off-season at the helm, a large sample size of interactions, offers and, ultimately, a handful of major signings coming to fruition has given the Atkins-led front office a track record.

And that matters.

There’s less guesswork about the club’s true goals and how it goes about its business when approaching free agents with honest offers. “There’s certainly a lot to continuity and consistency to create opportunities for organizations, but every year just feels better and better and it feels like we’re in a really favourable position,” Atkins said.

While it’s oftentimes overblown when interest is reported at this time of year — every team is talking to just about every player and agent in one way or another, even if it’s simply to cross a name off the list — there’s little doubt agents have more interest in reaching out these days, especially if they have players at obvious positions of interest to the Jays.

“We always want to beat them to that phone call and try to do that while also being respectful and not casting too big of a net,” Atkins said.

“I do think that has shifted a bit and there are certain fits that may be more aggressive in reaching out to us in years past.”

With the CBA expiration date of Dec. 1 adding another element of uncertainty to this off-season, Atkins and his peers don’t seem to be affected by it at this point.

It’s still very likely the off-season moves at a snail’s pace like it has in recent years, but there will be moves made over the next three weeks. “It certainly feels like business as usual or even better,” Atkins said. “That’s a big part of the time here now, where you really start to have extended exchanges and I think everybody is prepared to have genuine and authentic exchanges at this point and then you can adjust as you see fit.”

The early work for the Jays is on two obvious areas of need: The rotation and the infield.

Where the markets for Robbie Ray and Marcus Semien go will be a big part of that, but the Jays will have to check into alternatives and be prepared to strike.

Two veteran starting pitchers are needed to round out a rotation with Jose Berríos, Hyun Jin Ryu and Alek Manoah, while second base and third base are priorities.

“I would say it’s a high priority,” Atkins said of the rotation. “That’s the easiest one to look at and see that we’d like to improve there. At the same time, there’s a lot of ways to make our team better and we don’t want to paint ourselves into that box.”

With Cavan Biggio, Santiago Espinal, Kevin Smith and Otto Lopez on hand as in-house options of varying confidence, it could be an either/ or scenario when it comes to adding at the hot corner or the keystone. But Atkins didn’t rule it out if the market presents opportunities they like.

No one had Semien on the radar as a potential target last winter, and they ended up striking gold.

“The likelihood of it being high-impact and two star-calibre players is probably not high, but open to different ways to complementing and rounding out the infield,” Atkins said.

“We have some depth in our outfield, we have depth at catching, feel good about, in total, the pitching that we do have in the organization and would continue to add to it and add experience to it and see if there are ways to make it even better than it was last year. That will be very difficult, to make our rotation better than it was last year and certainly in the second half, but part of that is going to be guys improving.”

Along with staying in touch with the Ray and Semien camps, don’t rule out a Steven Matz return just yet.

After passing on handing the lefty an $18.4-million qualifying offer, Matz is likely to find a nice little market for himself at some point this winter.

“Love Steven and I’m a huge fan of his work ethic and the year that he had,” Atkins said. “I think he really appreciated his time in Toronto ... and Buffalo and Dunedin. It’s remarkable to think about what he did in those three stadiums and in the AL East and he made some solid adjustments that he benefited from and we’ll absolutely stay engaged.”

Atkins wasn’t about to offer up much info on where things stand with Semien and Ray, but they’ll stay interested until the end.

“It’s too early to say where (their markets) are going but I’m sure they’ll have a lot of interest,” Atkins said.

“We’ve already stated we have a lot of interest in both individuals.” While this off-season already feels similar to the past couple of winters in terms of the Jays having money to spend, one thing has certainly changed from this time a year ago.

The uncertainty surrounding where the Jays will play their home games in 2022 is gone.

“Last year, that was the first or last question that we got,” Atkins said. “It was definitely a question of significance in every interaction that we had and it has not been one this year. A couple people have asked if it’s something they need to worry about and you guys can answer that as well as I can. Our hope is certainly not and it doesn’t seem as though we’ll have to worry about it.”

The only thing they need to worry about is how to get back to the 90-win threshold ... and beyond.