It’s been a while since we have spoken, and I wish that on Wednesday I would be recapping the Blue Jays first World Series game since 1993, but we will have to wait next year for that.
On October 24, 2016 the Blue Jays held their annual end of season media conference. Every year, the Blue Jays discuss their upcoming plans for the season ahead, and what they plan on doing (contract wise) for free agents.
As you can imagine, Ross Atkins had plenty of things to talk about.
The first thing Atkins mentioned were the status of the biggest free agents in the Blue Jays organization. The Blue Jays plan on extending qualifying offers to both Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion. Atkins shared “I would expect that Bautista is motivated to return, based on everything he’s told us.” This year, the qualifying offer allotment of money will be $17.2 Million. Free agent Michael Saunders’ contract has not been set in stone yet. They have not yet made a decision regarding Saunders, but I assure they be making one come the next few weeks.
Atkins then said that the entire coaching staff will be returning for next season, with the exception of assistant hitting coach Eric Owens. Most people were happy about this, but there will always be some people who disagree (for example, my father). He also shared that him and John Gibbons have been exploring a contract extension. No updates have been provided lately.
The Blue Jays have also discussed the one year, $3 Million team option of Jason Grilli. Atkins said that it was “as near to a no-brainer to pick up” decision, leaving the impression that the Jays will be signing him for next season. He also stated that the bullpen remains a significant priority to the Blue Jays. We should be hearing news within the next few weeks, if that, regarding Grilli.
Atkins brought up a very interesting option for the Blue Jays during the media conference yesterday. He stated that the Blue Jays are going to talk to Joe Biagini about potentially stretching into a starting role. At this point, Roberto Osuna will be staying in a permanent reliever/closer. “Not going to stretch out Osuna because of how difficult he is to replace and length of time he’s been relieving.” said Atkins.
With the current free agent market, Atkins shared that he would not expect for the Blue Jays to trade any of their main starters (Stroman, Estrada, Sanchez, Happ, Liriano). There is also not much depth for them to pull from in triple A, as appose to last season with Drew Hutchison (who was traded).
A big question asked, any chance the Blue Jays rebuild this offseason? Atkins said: “We’re trying to win. We’re going to continue trying to win.”
Heading over to the Blue Jays affiliate Triple-A Minor League team, the Buffalo Bisons, Atkins said that Dalton Pompey and (catcher) A.J. Himinez, as well as a few relievers could be potential contributors to the 2017 Blue Jays roster. Atkins also said that Rowdy Tellez (23 home runs, .917 OPS in AA) could be in that mix, but the Blue Jays aren’t planning on it next season.
The Blue Jays are also looking for a new back up catcher, and from the sounds of things, it wasn’t clear if he was talking about Navarro or not. “Looking for back-up catcher who can handle our pitching staff, be a leader, give a productive at-bat.”
Atkins ended the media conference regarding the fans. “Home fans and the fact that we travel so well make this a really attractive destination for free agents.” I hope he is right.
“We were relatively successful in building a balanced team, but not good enough.” – Ross Atkins, General Manager – Toronto Blue Jays