Blue Jays: Why Ross Atkins’ extension was simply a formality

TORONTO, ON - APRIL 26: General manager Ross Atkins of the Toronto Blue Jays speaks to the media before introducing Vladimir Guerrero Jr. #27 before his MLB debut later tonight against the Oakland Athletics at Rogers Centre on April 26, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - APRIL 26: General manager Ross Atkins of the Toronto Blue Jays speaks to the media before introducing Vladimir Guerrero Jr. #27 before his MLB debut later tonight against the Oakland Athletics at Rogers Centre on April 26, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) /
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According to Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith, Ross Atkins’ contract that was set to expire after this season has been extended. Here’s why it was simply a formality for the Blue Jays.

While many Blue Jays fans are temporarily distracted by the excitement of the NBA finals, the Blue Jays took advantage of the situation and extended GM Ross Atkins’ contract while we weren’t really paying attention.

Okay, that’s not what happened at all.

Atkins did get an extension, at least that’s what it sounds like according to Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith, and his new contract will keep him in Toronto beyond the 2019 season, when his current deal was set to expire.

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Some Blue Jays fans may be dismayed by the fact that Atkins got an extension right now, but there are a whole pile of variables to consider, and when you put it all together you’ll (hopefully) realize that it was going to happen all along, regardless of how well this year’s version of the team performed.

It’s not that often that any front office employee or manager will work into the last year of their deal, unless they’re on thin ice. I don’t believe that’s the case for Atkins here at all, especially because of the circumstances surrounding the poor performance on the field this year. We all (should have) knew that a tough year was in store as the franchise committed to a rebuild, and you can question some of the decisions made by the front office (Lord knows I have), but I’m not sure you can be surprised by their place in the standings at the moment.

If the Blue Jays were going to hold Atkins accountable for that at all, then they would have gotten rid of him before the start of this season and handed the reigns to someone else with a long-term vision the club agreed with. Having a sitting duck for a GM doesn’t do anyone any good unless there is some sort of mutual understanding, and I don’t think that was the case here at all.

For Atkins, my guess is that his work will always inevitably be linked to Mark Shapiro, and there were rumours swirling last year that the team President may not be sticking around forever. Nothing happened on that front in the end, at least for now, and my guess is that the pair are committed to working on the rebuild in Toronto together, but’s just speculation.

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We don’t know the details of Atkins’ new contract, but with Shapiro’s only going until 2020 itself there is already speculation that this may be a one-year extension for now. We’ll see if that ends up being the case, but for the time being, nobody should be surprised that Atkins received a new deal. Ownership just let them go through the draft process and approved a tear-down of the roster like we have maybe never seen before in Toronto. If they weren’t planning on keeping him around, at least for a little while longer, it never would have gotten this far.

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