The Blue Jays are having “active conversations” with general manager Ross Atkins about a contract extension, team president Mark Shapiro told Sportsnet.ca’s Shi Davidi. Atkins’ current deal with the Jays expires at the end of the season, Davidi writes, which means that the extension Atkins inked back in June 2019 was a two-year pact. Since Shapiro’s own recent extension runs through the 2025 season, it’s fair to speculate whether Atkins’ next contract might have a similar term length.
The Jays have a 337-371 record since Atkins was hired in the 2015-16 offseason, a tenure that began with a postseason appearance in 2016, three down years as the Jays embarked on a rebuild, and then a return to the (expanded) playoffs in 2020. With a wealth of homegrown young talent and some high-priced free agents — Hyun Jin Ryu, George Springer, Marcus Semien — on the roster, Toronto has the pieces in place to become a consistent contender, marking quite the franchise overhaul in the five-plus years of the Shapiro/Atkins regime.
More from around the AL East…
- Ji-Man Choi has been sidelined with a knee problem, and Rays manager Kevin Cash told reporters (including Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times) that “we’re preparing as if he will not be ready for us by Opening Day.” Choi was shut down for 10 days following a cortisone shot on March 13, but Cash said that the team will continue to take it easy with Choi even after that 10-day span is up, in order to prevent further re-aggravation of the knee. The ever-deep Rays have Yoshi Tsutsugo available to take Choi’s spot as the primary first baseman against right-handed pitching, while Yandy Diaz and Mike Brosseau can cover the position when a lefty is on the mound. In the likely event of Choi’s placement on the injured list, Cash wasn’t yet sure if the Rays would replace Choi on the roster with another position player, or another pitcher for additional bullpen help.
- Orioles outfielder DJ Stewart is also in danger of missing the start of the season, as a bad hamstring has kept him out of a proper Spring Training game since March 5. Stewart has been working out with the team, but manager Brandon Hyde told MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko and other media that he won’t put Stewart into a game until the outfielder is fully healthy, so “it’s becoming more and more challenging” to envision a scenario where Stewart avoids the IL. The former first-round pick has shown some solid pop over his brief MLB career, with 14 homers (and a .224/.334/.433 slash line) over 301 career plate appearances from 2018-20.
- After signing Enrique Hernandez and Marwin Gonzalez in the offseason, the Red Sox might have another super-utilityman on hand in Christian Arroyo, as manager Alex Cora told reporters (including MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo) that Arroyo had recently asked about getting some work as a left fielder. Over his 85 career big league games and 445 games in the minors, Arroyo has played a lot of third base, second base, and shortstop, but no outfield work. Adding another position surely can’t hurt Arroyo going forward, whether to carve a future niche for himself as an even more versatile player, or just as a short-term method of earning extra playing time for the Sox this year.