New Year means Gibbons’ ’15 option guaranteed

Toronto Blue Jays manager John Gibbons. (AP)

Though the NHL’s Winter Classic and college football bowl games dominate headlines on New Year’s Day, some baseball news did occur Wednesday. John Gibbons’ 2015 option became guaranteed and the manager had a 2016 option added to his contract due to a clause in his unique deal with the Toronto Blue Jays.

When Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos hired Gibbons in November of 2012, the sides agreed to a contract designed to prevent the 51-year-old Texan from becoming a ‘lame duck’ manager, Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi reported. The creative contract structure dictates that as long as the Blue Jays don’t fire Gibbons prior to Jan. 1, the option for the next season becomes guaranteed and an additional option gets added to the deal.

Despite a disappointing first season back with the Blue Jays, Gibbons remains the team’s manager, which means his contract covers 2014 and 2015 with a newly-added 2016 option as of New Year’s Day. Gibbons said last month that he’s looking forward to a fresh start in 2014 after last year’s 74-88 finish.

“We want to turn the page and move on,” he said. “We didn’t answer the bell last year, but now it’s time to do it. Are we going to be ready coming out of spring training? We need a good start.  Coming off the year we had in our division, we buried ourselves early last year, and we can’t afford that. We can’t afford to do that. So, yeah, we’ve got to be ready and step it up a little in spring training.”

If Gibbons makes it through another season, the 2016 option will become guaranteed and a 2017 option will be added. The contract amounts to a perpetual two-year deal and means Gibbons and Anthopoulos don’t face questions about the skipper’s job status.

Gibbons, a former MLB catcher with the New York Mets, first managed the Blue Jays from 2004-08. In six total seasons with Toronto, his teams have compiled a 379-393 record for a .491 winning percentage. Gibbons says he can do his part to improve on last year’s 88-loss season by setting a tone for his players once spring training opens in Dunedin, Fla., next month.

“In reality, the manager is the leader or needs to be,” he said. “It helps. You’ve got to have players doing some of that. You say this guy has to lead the team, but the manager is still calling the shots.”

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