Death, taxes and Ross Atkins giving an unsatisfactory press conference. These are all of the things in life that are truly guaranteed.
At the conclusion of the 2023 season, Atkins spoke to the media to address the Jose Berrios incident and it went up in flames. At the end of his time on the podium, all fans were able to take away is the fact that he threw John Schneider and his decision-making under the bus.
On Wednesday, Atkins addressed the media again, this time to introduce Kevin Kiermaier and Isiah Kiner-Falefa as the newest members of the Blue Jays. In typical Atkins fashion, the presser did much more than simply allow fans to meet their newest players. Instead, he did his typical routine of talking in circles and failing to put fans' minds at ease.
Let's dive into his comments a bit and see what the biggest takeaways are.
There is no upgrade coming at third base
Unfortunately, you read that right. Atkins told the media that he felt the options on-hand are going to suffice at third base. This effectively shuts the door on a reunion with Matt Chapman.
"We feel really good about the team we have," he said via the Zoom call. "Between [Santiago] Espinal, [Cavan] Biggio and [Isiah] Kiner-Falefa, we have opportunities to deploy different lineups and different players playing third base potentially."
While this likely closes the door on bringing Chapman and his streaky bat back to Toronto, this also means that Atkins is comfortable going with a trio of unreliable bats to man the hot corner on an every day basis. This is yet another frustrating turn of events for Blue Jays fans, as this means there's not going to be much of an upgrade coming via free agent signing or trade.
As a reminder, this is the group we're looking at if the season were to start today.
Odds are, there's only one more addition coming
Atkins also mentioned that there's still room to add a bat to this offensive group. When asked how many, he said, "it's closer to one", than to two or even three. The Blue Jays have long been tabbed as a club in desperate need of some additional thump, so to hear the GM say that there's only one more addition coming is - again - a bit of a disappointment.
Adding a proven designated hitter - preferably one who can play a position part-time as well like Brandon Belt last year - is a must. Jorge Soler, J.D. Martinez and Joc Pederson all feel like fits who can DH and fake it in a corner outfield spot.
Then there's Rhys Hoskins, whose right-handed DH/1B profile is similar to Vladimir Guerrero Jr.'s but comes with some light-tower power. He's an under-the-radar fit that fans should monitor closely as the rest of the offseason progresses.
Atkins said that he felt last year's offensive troubles were "just a blip", and that there's plenty of room to make adjustments and bounce back. He's not far off, but it's also fair to say that the current group of hitters is more than just one addition away from being "back to normal".
Matt Hague finally receives his promotion
In a rare bit of good news, Atkins also confirmed that Matt Hague earned a promotion. He will move up from the Buffalo Bisons' hitting coach to the MLB staff as assistant hitting coach. He will join Hunter Mense as the second assistant to Guillermo Martinez.
Last year, Hague rose to prominence amongst fans and players alike. He played a huge role in the emergences of young guns in Triple-A like Davis Schneider, Ernie Clement, Spencer Horwitz and even Nathan Lukes. He made something from nothing and did an exceptional job of getting the most out of all of his players.
When the players themselves speak about Hague, there's nothing but good things. He is a former big leaguer himself who also spent 10 years in the minors, so he knows a thing or two about the game. Bringing him up to the big leagues alongside some of these young players could prove to be helpful beyond measure.