Blue Jays president Mark Shapiro still has his eyes on championship calibre depth along with Dunedin renovations and Toronto’s big-name extension candidates
Mark Shapiro joined Bob McCown and Arash Madani for Prime Time Sports on The Fan 590 last night to discuss a wide range of Blue Jays topics, and the takeaways offer more good than bad.
“Listen. Continue to listen and learn,” Shapiro said when asked what is first on his to-do list as he reiterated his stance that, in the role of president, he intends to act as a facilitator. He also told McCown that the Blue Jays were still actively engaged with teams on the trade market and monitoring the remaining free agents.
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On impending free agents Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion, Shapiro expressed rather passionately the same sentiment we heard from Ross Atkins earlier in the week: that the Blue Jays absolutely want to sign both players. He added that the Blue Jays would be meeting with Bautista at his home in Tampa Bay next week.
Roster depth was a huge talking point for Shapiro, too, and his determination to continue building talent on the edges of the roster should be a tangible takeaway here.
“The less ‘ifs’ you have, the better spot you’re in,” Shapiro said. “There are a lot of spots where we don’t have the right championship calibre depth.”
This could be applicable to Toronto’s starting rotation, where Shapiro discussed the need to have seven to eight or starting pitchers able to contribute in a big league role. Not just the five on Opening Day. He expressed some concern with Toronto’s catching depth, too, in the situation that Russell Martin should go down with injury.
On the business side, it appears that the Blue Jays still have some money in the bank bank for 2016. “We still have money to spend,” Shapiro admitted, but the amount is what remains a mystery here. When discussing a mid-range starting option like Yovani Gallardo, he did seem less certain about that resource level being available.
Toronto’s research into installing natural grass at the ‘Dome is also still ongoing, though Shapiro says that the club will wait to hear back on the feasibility study before they begin examining the financial aspects of such a significant project.
In regard to Toronto’s Spring Training complex in Dunedin, Florida, a renovation now seems the likely path as opposed to a complete rebuild or move to Arizona.
Shapiro expressed his desire multiple times to “do everything humanly possible” to make the situation work in Dunedin. He said that the Blue Jays are very close to being at a point where they can lay out a “program” for the city of Dunedin detailing what they would need, and that the overall project would involve the construction of some new facilities alongside renovations to existing infrastructure.