TORONTO – John Gibbons’ job security has been a topic of discussion for years in Toronto, so it’s no surprise to see those questions resurface as the Blue Jays return home with a 51-60 record.
On Monday, Sportsnet’s Jeff Blair wrote that this could be Gibbons’ final homestand as manager. On Tuesday, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic wrote that the Blue Jays “seem destined to move on” from Gibbons, whose contract runs through 2019.
But when asked about Gibbons’ status Tuesday evening, Blue Jays GM Ross Atkins said Gibbons remains in good standing with the front office and continues to contribute to plans for this season and beyond.
“Our relationship’s great,” Atkins said. “Every day our conversation’s about solutions and part of our conversations obviously have to incorporate the future, too, so he’s very much a part of those.”
As Atkins noted, injuries to prominent players such as Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez and Josh Donaldson have contributed significantly to the club’s struggles. Add to that the absence of closer Roberto Osuna, and the Blue Jays have rarely fielded the roster they envisioned ahead of the season.
Entering play Tuesday, the Blue Jays are fourth in the AL East, 27 games behind the visiting Red Sox for top spot in the AL East. Still, Atkins said he’s looking for answers rather than scapegoats.
“I don’t think there’s ever a good time to make those decisions,” Atkins said when asked about the possibility of a personnel change. “Right now we’re just focused on solutions and improvement and getting better.”
While wins have been elusive, the Blue Jays continue seeing positive signs from Gibbons, Atkins said.
“Our values,” the GM said. “Collaboration. Looking to improve. Empowering people, respecting other people. His humility. He can’t control team results always. I’m as much a part of that as anyone. We all are. We’re focused on him getting better, us getting better and, ultimately, the organization getting better.”
Gibbons’ first stint with the Blue Jays began in 2004 and ended midway through the 2008 season when the team started 35-39 and then-GM J.P. Ricciardi replaced Gibbons with Cito Gaston.
Four and a half years later, Gibbons returned for a second managerial stint of his own. Alex Anthopoulos re-hired Gibbons before the 2013 season, and after a couple of disappointing years in 2013 and 2014 he managed the Blue Jays to consecutive ALCS appearances in 2015 and 2016.
Before the 2017 season, Atkins restructured Gibbons’ contract, removing the rollover clause that previously existed and locking Gibbons in through 2019 with a 2020 club option.