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Photo Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

Atkins discusses locking up Vlad long-term

The Blue Jays GM appeared on Sportsnet’s Starting Lineup radio show to discuss the start of the season and the current status of the team. Taking into account how some teams are treating their young players, of course Vladimir Guerrero Jr. was brought up.

With Eloy Jiminez and Ronald Acuna Jr. signing long-term extensions that take them right to their free agency years, it was brought up whether the Blue Jays are thinking about that scenario with Vlad.

“The upside is control and having certainty, not just the years of control but what you’re going compensating that player at,” Atkins said. “Obviously, it’s attractive to all teams and it’s occurring more. We’re obviously committed to the long-term here and we’re obviously committed to building the best possible core that we can. And to extend that window as long as humanly possible, is absolutely our goal.”

Going through the motions and thought processes of what the upside could be for signing such an extension with a young player is natural for every club. Especially that it is becoming increasingly more common to see in modern baseball.

Teams are willing to take the risk with their high-potential young players, and from where most stand, it never truly hurts the team in the long run. There are cases where signing a player to a long-term deal has hurt the club, but with what money is spent each year, to end up with that size of a mistake is not what teams are caring about.

“The attractive part is that any time you’re sharing risk with a player, it doesn’t just happen overnight. A lot of interaction, a lot of back and forth — what’s important to a player and what’s important to an organization has to line up.”, Atkins said.

Demonstrating the balance between both sides of the negotiation is fairly plain to see. Both sides have to have a reason to sign the deal and in Acuna and Jiminez’s case, they wanted security and the ability to not worry about their value.

Again, as Atkins stated, it doesn’t happen overnight so no one can be for sure if they’re really thinking about a similar extension.

“On the player side, the risk is potentially turning down the opportunity to go to free agency. And potentially set records in free agency for players that are as good or project to be,” Atkins said. “On the club side, the risk is if the player is not quite the player they’re projected to be, or significantly less.”

Continuing on the process of balancing the risks, Atkins goes over what both sides have to go through in their individual thought processes. Whether any scenario benefits them — or could possibly benefit both sides equally — is uncertain, but there might just be an option.

Going past the boring economic discussion, the GM provides another update on their philosophy when it comes to Vlad.

“The question isn’t around his offence, the question is around maximizing the player that he can be,” Atkins said.

“Ensuring that we’re doing everything so he can be the best overall player. How could can he possibly be at third base and how long could he be someone at third base. You bring a player to the major leagues and that’s not absolute, it becomes a lot easier to move him off third base in a hurry.”

Weighing all the options and how much risk they are putting in the player is generally where Atkins and the whole Blue Jays front office has their mentality.

The one opinion that has not been spread around a lot is that it is “easier to move him off” of third if he starts out rough and is “not ready”. One can always argue for certainty in a player’s performance, but we’re also talking about an alien that has come from another world solely to hit baseballs.

It’s a special scenario and Atkins tread through it extremely lightly.