The Blue Jays officially introduced Ross Atkins as the team’s new general manager in a press conference yesterday. Here are some of the most noteworthy items from that presser, as per the National Post’s John Lott, Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi and Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith…
- Atkins will slowly ease into the job over the offseason, a transition necessitated by the late timing of his hiring and the fact that interim GM Tony LaCava has already completed many of the club’s big winter plans. LaCava will “work us through the Winter Meetings and through this offseason as the leader of our decision-making. I’ll support and complement any way that I can,” Atkins said.
- Atkins, LaCava, Royals assistant GM Rene Francisco and a mystery candidate were the four finalists for the job. While Atkins was cited as a potential favorite from the moment the Jays’ GM job became available, team president/CEO Mark Shapiro consulted with an executive recruitment firm to make sure he wasn’t showing any bias towards his long-time former charge from the Indians front office.
- While Atkins thinks the rotation is already strong enough to contend, he said the Jays will look to add starting depth. With Marcus Stroman, R.A. Dickey, J.A. Happ and Marco Estrada already locked into rotation jobs, Shapiro expects “three or four” pitchers to battle for the fifth spot in Spring Training, one of whom will be the newly-acquired Jesse Chavez.
- The Jays aren’t at their payroll limit, Shapiro said, though he didn’t elaborate on any specific dollar amount. When asked if he’d requested a payroll increase from ownership in the wake of the Blue Jays’ big attendance increase during their late-season pennant drive, Shapiro said “Yes, and that’s obviously happened.”
- Though Toronto has already addressed its biggest need in the form of rebuilding the pitching staff, that doesn’t necessarily mean the team is done for the winter. “Because we have filled the largest holes, we are open to being very creative the rest of the offseason. So we have the ability to examine a lot of scenarios,” Shapiro said.
- David Price left the Jays to join the division rival Red Sox on a record seven-year, $217MM contract. Toronto was never considered to be a major contender to re-sign Price since the bidding was expected to be too high, though the team had a natural interest in bringing the ace southpaw back. “It’s never a question of do you want David Price,” Shapiro said. “That’s silly. Of course, yes, we want David Price. It’s a question of how do you build a championship team within the parameters you’re given. It’s as simple as that. We have all the resources necessary to build a championship team, but they’re not unlimited.”
- Former Indians manager Eric Wedge has been in talks to join the organization in some capacity, though Shapiro said no hiring was imminent and that Wedge wouldn’t be taking a job currently filled by another employee.
- Several front office areas will be addressed, with the hiring of a new director of Latin American operations being a “top of the list” priority for Atkins. The Blue Jays will also look to bulk up their analytics department, as well as their training and conditioning departments.