Ross Atkins will return as Blue Jays GM in 2024, Mark Shapiro says
Photo credit:Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
By Thomas Hall1 month ago
Ross Atkins will return as the Toronto Blue Jays general manager in 2024, team president and CEO Mark Shapiro announced on Thursday.
While speaking at the Rogers Centre during his end-of-season press conference, Shapiro confirmed there will not be a new GM running the show next season, with Atkins returning for a ninth season at the helm.
Atkins was hired by the Blue Jays in December 2015, replacing interim GM Tony LaCava, who stepped in following the departure of longtime executive Alex Anthopoulos.
The Blue Jays have made the playoffs in four of the eight seasons since Atkins took over as GM, including three of the previous four. They were swept out of this year’s post-season by the Minnesota Twins, which extended the franchise’s losing streak to seven straight, dating back to the 2016 ALCS.
Atkins confirmed manager John Schneider would return for a third season in 2024 – his second full campaign – during last Saturday’s end-of-season press conference.
The 50-year-old front-office executive signed a five-year contract extension in 2021 that runs through the 2026 campaign.
When asked to reflect on Atkins’ job performance from this past season, Shapiro praised the Blue Jays GM for his efforts, not only in 2023 but as a whole, saying, “The body of work is undeniable.” He added, however, that nobody is a finished product, and there’s still plenty of room for growth, particularly with communicating consistently throughout the organization.
Atkins put the decision to pull a dealing José Berríos in Game 2 of the wild-card series squarely on Schneider when he spoke to the media over the weekend, implying a disconnect between the two. He also claimed management had zero influence on the execution of that pre-game strategy.
Rather than taking accountability as a group, which would’ve shown a sign of unity, he shifted the focus away from himself and toward the Blue Jays skipper for the controversial pitching change.
Despite that, Shapiro believes the two remain on the same page and isn’t concerned about their relationship heading into this off-season.
Toronto’s front office has its work cut out for them this winter, with five key players headed to free agency – including Matt Chapman, Kevin Kiermaier, Brandon Belt, Hyun Jin Ryu and Jordan Hicks. Whit Merrifield ($18 million mutual option) and Chad Green (multi-tiered contract options) could also reach the open market.
A deep dive into the club’s coaching staff will also be required, as Shapiro mentioned, to help maximize the roster’s full potential. Much of that will likely transpire on the offensive front for a lineup that underperformed considerably compared to the organization’s pre-season projections.
The good news, however, is there’ll be ample time for internal evaluations after the franchise endured another early post-season exit.
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