Blue Jays’ Atkins: Becoming a winning team involves ‘tough decisions’

Toronto Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins joined Tim and Sid to discuss trading Josh Donaldson and expectations for the future.

With Josh Donaldson now suiting up for the Cleveland Indians, it’s worth wondering what could have been had the Toronto Blue Jays reached a contract extension with the 2015 AL MVP this past off-season.

According to Blue Jays GM Ross Atkins, the two sides struggled to see eye-to-eye in negotiations.

“We did talk extensively. There were numerous interactions with Josh, numerous interactions with (his agent) Dan Lozano, and it was a massive part of our off-season with a lot of focus and attention to it,” Atkins said during an interview on Tim and Sid.

“Ultimately, the mutual decision was to not talk about (a new contract) again in season because we were too far apart… We were comfortable with Josh’s decision to close that book in the short term, to say let’s talk about that in the off-season,” Atkins added.

When asked if the gap in negotiations is what caused Donaldson to tell reporters on Sunday that, “There was never a talk of an exchange of numbers – not to me,” Atkins elected not to delve into specifics.

“We feel good about the effort we put in that direction and I think Josh did too at the time. Ultimately, we didn’t realize an agreement. Again, not closing any doors whatsoever.”

Atkins’ remarks on the Donaldson negotiations echo his comments from a conference call on Saturday in which the GM confirmed the two parties “talked about extensions at length” during the 2017 off-season.

The general manager added the decision to trade Donaldson was made in an effort to build a team capable of sustaining a winning culture long-term.

“What we would like to do is be a winning organization that sustains it year in and year out, and that takes tough decisions,” Atkins said Monday. “If you’re not willing to make those, then you’re shooting for average.”

Donaldson’s desire to remain with the Blue Jays, or at least negotiate a return to Toronto beyond this season, was evident through his comments in an interview with Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi on Sunday.

“I felt like being a cornerstone part of that (Blue Jays) organization for the last four years, that’s where I called home and I wanted to be there,” Donaldson said.

“The fact of the matter is as a player, we can only control what we can control. I’m not authorizing decisions. What I can control is after a decision is made, turning it into a positive and trying to do the best that I can to turn the situation into a positive one.”

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