Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins met with reporters (including Sportsnet.ca’s Ben Nicholson-Smith and MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm) today to discuss his team’s season and how the Jays plan to move forward going into the winter. Some highlights…
- The Jays will be “open to trades” and “open to any possible way we can make our team better,” Atkins said, stressing the need for added depth and versatility. The GM reiterated that the Jays aren’t looking to trade from their Major League roster unless they find a deal that improves the big league team.
- The Blue Jays want to “add one impact arm and one impact position player for sure,” though Atkins wasn’t necessarily sure that the position player would play right field, which is the only clear opening in the lineup. Teoscar Hernandez has “certainly earned the right” to compete for the everyday right field job in the wake of an impressive September. The “impact arm” also could be either a starter or a relief pitcher.
- Lack of team speed “is a clear issue for us,” though one that Atkins admitted is “really hard to [address] in free agency” given that most of the available veterans are generally on the older side and lacking in quickness.
- Middle infield is an area of concern, as “we can’t rely that we will have an absolutely healthy Troy Tulowitzki and Devon Travis for the entire year, and we need to build depth around them.” Injuries limited Tulowitzki and Travis to just 116 games combined last year, and both players have exhibited a lack of durability over the last few seasons.
- Atkins confirmed that the Jays will not be exercising their end of Jose Bautista’s mutual option for 2018. (Sportsnet.ca’s Shi Davidi recently reported that Bautista was informed of the team’s decision a few weeks ago.) It is “very unlikely,” Atkins said, that Bautista will return to the Jays even on a smaller deal in 2018, though the door isn’t closed on the longtime slugger eventually returning to the franchise. “When he comes back here, he will be celebrated in a very strong way,” Atkins said.
- No changes are coming to the coaching staff, and there weren’t any strong rumblings about a possible managerial change, Atkins confirmed that John Gibbons would also return to the dugout. “I feel strongly that he’s a part of our solution, and I love going to work with him every day,” Atkins said about the manager.