Ross Atkins Had A Pointless Press Conference, Part One: On Jose Bautista

Jose Bautista
Photo Credit: Peter Llewellyn-USA TODAY Sports

I get that Ross Atkins probably didn’t want to look like he was ducking the issue of Jose Bautista’s contractual shot across the bow yesterday, and that he’d like to put as much of a lid on the Jay Bruce trade talk as he possibly can, but wow, did the Blue Jays’ GM ever just have the most pointless media conference I can remember.

HEY EVERYBODY, ROSS HAS SOMETHING TO SAY! The floor is yours, Ross…

[Adjusts glasses] [Takes sip of water] [Clears throat] …

“No comment.”

Not that anyone should have expected anything different. He’s certainly not going to get himself fined by talking about other team’s players and there really isn’t a whole lot to say about Bautista’s demands — frankly, I’d wager he probably agrees with them to a large extent. Bautista deserves a fair market contract, and what’s going to ultimately going to hold back any sort of agreement between him and the Jays isn’t the desire of Atkins and Mark Shapiro to have him on the roster, but their ability to make his deal fit within their budget going forward.

On TSN Radio this morning, Buster Olney said that the Jays’ ownership “won’t allocate 20-25% of their payroll to a player that will be 36 in the fall,” to which the only natural response is: so up the payroll.

Olney writes about Bautista’s demands at ESPN.com, suggesting that he’s done the club a huge favour by being so direct and so presumably outlandish in his ask. Not that he won’t get the kind of money he’s seeking, but for a club with a payroll level that the Jays have, by Olney’s thinking, as with David Price, there’s just no way it’s going to make sense.

More accurately, Bautista has made his contract a question for ownership, not management.

That’s absolutely fucking perfect if you ask me. Other than its making the potential of him leaving all the more real, the whole thing is quite delicious, frankly.

Bautista wouldn’t be Bautista if he was willing to settle for anything less than the most he can possibly get. That’s kind of his whole thing. And you have to believe it’s a big part of why we’ve seen via social media so many of the club’s pre-arb guys following him to Super Bowl pajama parties and workouts well before training camp actually begins. Getting paid resonates with these guys a whole lot more than any kind of false loyalty to organizations that so often get applauded for treating players as ruthlessly as possible, and if that means they take care of themselves and don’t show up looking like Pablo Sandoval, all the better. It’s just sometimes it means a situation like the one the Jays are facing here.

Or, as I say, a situation that Rogers is facing, and almost certainly will be facing for several more months to come — which is why Atkins’ disinclination to comment is completely reasonable.

Oh, but that doesn’t mean the GM wouldn’t have had anything to answer for today, were he actually, y’know, willing to comment. But we’ll get to the Jay Bruce mess in part two…

  • TomW

    Ross Atkins might be fine at being a GM.

    But watching him handle the media today was bizarre. He actually comes across as being way in over his head, I get that he might just be uncomfortable talking to the media, but that is part of the job..

      • Dabbles

        It would be dumb not to consider trading him at near peak value with two years of team control remaining.

        Particularly if the Jays enter a mini-rebuild after 2016 and have little interest in dedicating $200 million to a superstar in his 30s.

        Frankly, it’s dumb not to explore trading Bautista and/or EE right now if another team is willing to give them the extensions they deserve.

        Sadly, the Blue Jays are not the kind of team that can bet too much on one season.

          • The Drunken Wolf

            Agreed.

            But I’m not doing that.

            This is a good team that should contend in 2016 if the pitching is average.

            In 2017, though, a number of the biggest bargains that are providing that elusive surplus value (Bats, EE, Dickey, Cecil, Chavez, Storen) will either be gone or playing under market value contracts.

            But, hey, at least the Jays may have avoided Bruce!

          • Steve-O

            But there will still a lot of that elusive surplus value there.

            The rotation alone in 2017 will have Stroman, and let’s say two of Osuna, Sanchez, and Hutch. Lots of value there.

            The lineup should get also plenty of surplus value out of guys like Pillar, Travis, and maybe even Pompey.

            The shift from All World Offense + Average Pitching to Very Good Offense + Better Pitching should not prevent them from competing moving forward. It’s just a that the value will be coming from different areas.

          • JustinTet

            It depends on whether or not payroll stays at $140 million or gets slashed to $100 – $120 million.

            If the Jays do not contend in 2016, I’m not sure why anyone expects payroll to be maintained.

            This is already the upper level of Rogers’ comfort zone.

            Do you honestly think payroll would have been $140 million in 2016 without last season’s revenues?

          • Steve-O

            You and Oakville should start a support group.

            What could possibly make you think they would slash payroll to $100M?

            And if they do contend – like everyone expects them to – and attendance and ratings are high, wouldn’t the opposite be much more likely (payroll goes up)?

            Which makes keeping one of Bautista or EE more likely, and extends their window even longer.

            I’m not sure what you’re trying to say here. You want them to anticipate a losing season in 2016 and preemptively trade guys like Bautista and Donaldson now? That makes no sense.

          • noopi

            This is kind of what AS.com looked like in its early days, back in November and December 2014 (comments, that is). I expect it’ll get much better in fairly short order.

  • J.M.

    The fact that he laid it all out on the ownership was brilliant and well done. I just doubt that, especially since the media in Canada IS that ownership, this nuance will get the full attention it deserves, because Lord knows Rogers DESERVES to have a spotlight shined on it’s management practices of the Jays