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Digging into Ross Atkins press conference: The future of the managerial position, bullpen heading into 2023 and more!

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Photo credit:Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
Brennan Delaney
3 months ago
The annual end-of-season press conference took place on Tuesday afternoon, let’s dig into some of what Ross Atkins said.
Of course, he didn’t say much in terms of who they’re looking at in the free-agent market, or what the plan is for roster construction, other than “we need to improve”, but let’s start with some good news.

George Springer’s health:

On the play that tied the game, Bo Bichette and George Springer both dove for the ball, with Springer essentially getting close-lined. He suffered a concussion (which was pretty much a given) and a shoulder sprain.
Atkins also noted that Springer’s elbow is feeling better and that he’ll be visiting a doctor once cleared. If there’s an operation to remove the spur in the elbow, Atkins believes that it will only benefit the outfielder positively.

The future of the manager position:

The Toronto General Manager will spend more time looking for a manager, but it seems as if John Schneider is the leading candidate for the role. Atkins said, “I feel very confident about the job [Schneider] has done, it will be very difficult for us to find better than John Schneider”.
Although Schneider made a gaff in the second game of the series, the 42-year-old manager had a 46-28 record once he took over for the Jays. When they fired Charlie Montoyo, the Jays were 46-42, so it’s difficult to say that Schneider doesn’t deserve another shot. Not to mention the fact that the core grew up in the minors with Schneider as their manager.

Ross Stripling:

My sense is that the Jays would love to bring back their MVP of the 2022 season. There’s certainly a fit and Stripling is a damn good pitcher. The way he phrased it seemed as if Stripling may have priced himself out of a contract in Toronto, but I’m not entirely sure.
I’ve said it’s a no-brainer many times, and I still believe it is. The Jays should offer Stripling a qualifying offer. If he comes back on an $18.7 million deal or whatever, then so be it, he has definitely earned it. Furthermore, it wouldn’t exclude the Jays from signing him to a multi-year deal with a lower annual average.
If he signs elsewhere, they’ll be entitled to a compensation pick. It’s sort of a win-win, other than the fact you’re losing you’re #3 in the rotation.

No shaking up of the core:

This one wasn’t a surprise. Atkins had a small chuckle before answering bluntly “No.”. He didn’t answer the question thoroughly, but my sense is that he doesn’t plan on disrupting the chemistry of the team because of two subpar games when it mattered most.
Playoff baseball is an absolute crapshoot. It’s not very often that you see the best team win the World Series, look no further than the Atlanta Braves last season… Or the Washington Nationals in 2019… Or the Kansas City Royals in 2015. Once you get in, anything can happen. It’s not like hockey or basketball.
As I write this, the Philadelphia Phillies are winning game one of the NLDS against the 100+ win Atlanta Braves, despite the fact that they just squeaked into the playoffs.
While moves are going to be made for the betterment of the team and the Jays’ front office will be open-minded about it., it’s clear that they don’t plan on trading Bo Bichette, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., or the rest of their young core.

Signing of the core:

This is an update, as Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith noted that Ross Atkins said “the Jays have laid some groundwork for contract extensions for a few core players.”
While the General Manager didn’t go into specifics, Nicholson-Smith assumes that the core of Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, and Alek Manoah are in that core.
I have no idea if Alejandro Kirk, Danny Jansen, Teoscar Hernandez, and Lourdes Gurriel Jr are also part of that core though.

Left-handed bats:

When asked about whether it’s a priority to add a left-handed bat, Ross Atkins gave this answer: What makes it hard is how good the nine guys are. So doing better than a certain hitter and turning them around is the hard part of it. They’ve been effective, and it’s not like they were beaten up by right-handed pitching.”
Atkins went on to add that there is an argument about how game planning against a lineup full of righties makes it easier for the opposing team. He included this in the category of “this will help the betterment of the team.”

Bullpen:

Atkins acknowledged that while the Jays’ bullpen was good this season, and had moments of greatness, to contend for a World Series, it has to be one of the best. However, he wants the Jays to be the best in every facet of the game, such as hitting and starting pitching as well.
The Jays General Manager was also asked his theory on why the Jays could develop starting pitching and position players, but not relievers. Atkins noted that Jordan Romano and Tim Mayza are two homegrown players, but also noted that relievers come from many different pathways.
This is 100% true. While most elite relievers are failed starters (take Josh Hader for example), it’s hard to strictly “develop” a reliever, unless they were drafted as such. A good example of a few drafted relievers is Hayden Juenger (6th rounder in 2021) and Brandon Eisert (18th rounder in 2019.)  
You can also look at the plethora of relievers drafted in the 2022 draft, such as TJ Brock, who had a whiff% of over 40% (how many swings were misses). He also throws 100 mph, so that’s exciting.

Positioned to be active:

My biggest takeaway from the 2022 season is that the Jays can’t come into 2023 with the same roster. Atkins noted that the team is positioned to be active, whether it be through trades or signings, I’m not too sure.
Being owned by Rogers, if the Jays are serious about making a deep push in the postseason, I believe that they’ll have to spend like a Top 5 team in baseball. They have around $124 million in committed payroll next season, and may very well be up to $180 million after arbitration.
The Competitive Balance Tax sits at $233,000,000, meaning the Jays have around $50,000,000 to play around with before reaching penalties.
If they’re serious about winning, they have to be willing to spend some money.
As always, you can follow me on Twitter @Brennan_L_D.

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